Thursday, July 14, 2011

Growing Up to (Thirty) Four

As I mentioned the other day, Charlotte was going to gymnastics camp this week. It is an early birthday present (she'll be 4 in a few weeks) and she was very excited to wake up every day and put on her new sparkly gymnastics outfit.

Anyone who knows me on a daily basis, knows that I generally don't have a problem leaving my children with other people. And they don't either. Charlotte has been going to church nursery since she was about 2 months old and never really bats an eye when I drop her off. And now, Mary usually just walks right into her class without even a second thought of me. My girls go to a baby sitter's house sometimes or I swap child care with a local friend. I have just never felt very stressed out about leaving them with people I know and trust.

But the first day of gymnastics camp was a little different than I expected. As I watched Charlotte walk onto the squishy floor, she turned and gave me a slightly pensive look, seeking encouragement that it was okay to proceed into a room full of strangers. I smiled, gave her a thumbs up, and she ran back to me for one more quick leg hug. I reached down and rubbed her back and told her to have fun, wondering where that lump in my throat had come from.

Mary and I got back in the car and as I started to pull away, I realized I wasn't the only one who was going to miss Charlotte. Mary was in the back seat crying loudly for her 'arlotte.' And that is when I was really surprised, because I started to lose it too. I had to stop for a minute to get my bawling under control. I don't know why, but it had never occurred to me that Mary would miss her big sister. And I missed her too.

I called my mom (who is still in the hospital, but getting better thank you) and told her that I couldn't believe that I missed Charlotte so much. I think it was a combination of realizing that at almost 4 years old, she is finally old enough to go and do some things without parental supervision. And even though we'll be doing it at home, she's old enough to start real preschool.

(Thirty) Four is likely going to be a hard age for both of us as we begin a more formal approach to homeschooling. But weeks like this, where she gets a chance to spread her wings a little, make me even more resolved to make sure she is adequately prepared.

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