Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sometimes They Surprise Me--P.II

All last week, DD#2 seemed fidgety.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "I feel kind of nervous."

"About camp?"


"Nervous-excited or nervous-scared?" I asked.

"Both," she admitted.

"Really?" I was kind of surprised. This is not her first time being away from home. She's been tent-camping since she was 4 weeks old. She's been to Girl Scout camp, to an outdoor education camp with her class, and has spent a week with her grandmother.

She waved her hand in a brush-off motion. "I always feel this way when I go somewhere for the first time," she said, "because I don't know what it's going to be like."

DD#1 is a counselor at a local Girl Scout camp, although not the same one where her sister is going. DD#1 has limited access to e-mail, so I've been sending her notes and cards by snail mail and I mentioned her sister's nervousness.

On Monday I have an e-mail at work from DD#1: "Have Sis check her e-mail before she leaves."

DD#2 does. There's nothing special there. "Check mine," I suggest. (DD#2's access to the internet is limited.) There's a message from DD#1 titled "For Sis's Eyes Only"

DD#2 recapped the message for me: "The weather's been nice during the day, cool during the evening. The counselors are great. The only problem has been the mosquitos." During pre-camp training, DD#1 had met some of the counselors at the camp where DD#2 is going. DD#1 contacted them by e-mail, asked a couple of questions and sent the answers to DD#2.

Now, DD#1 and DD#2 are 7 years apart. They share a 9'x 9' room, which has barely enough space for their bunk beds and dressers. The closet is tiny. Their turf wars are loud and long. They know how to push each other's buttons faster than I can hit the buttons on the keyboard, with DD#1 having the advantage b/c she is older. Yet, they are also capable of great acts of kindness towards each other, which I don't get to see very often. As a counselor, DD#1 gets only a 2-hour break during the day. For her to spend it reassuring her younger sister is a quite a gift.

And reassures me that maybe I'm doing an okay job as a parent: some of the seeds of the values I have planted and carefully tended over the years have found fertile ground. I have hope that maybe the rest are there, too, hidden among the weeds, waiting for the harvest.