That Thursday night we all sat around the speaker phone. It was so good to hear her voice. "I am trying all kinds of new things, Mama! I tried meatloaf! And haggis! And I liked it! I love you and miss you, but I have to go because my friends are waiting for me to do a magic trick. Send me a package. Bye!"
Um, wow? That evening, I scrambled around the house to find surprises to put in her little package. Gum, cookies, chips, bubbles, a card game, rubix cube, a new book to read, sunglasses, a water bottle that we forgot to pack...
The next day we get a letter in the mail. "I am having so much fun. I love you but I am not homesick. Love, Izzy."
The weekend goes by somewhat more quietly then normal. A third less noise seems like an awful lot. Everyday I look in her room. Nothing is moved.
On Monday night I call again. "I can't talk to you a lot because when I think about how you aren't here, or think about you too much when I'm alone, tears come to my eyes," she says. This is way worse then the alternative. I rather she doesn't miss me. "Thanks for the package, even though it was a bunch of random stuff I already had around the house..." God I miss that kid.
Everyday is a count down until Friday. I leave way too early to pick her up because I can't wait to see her. Good thing, though, since I get stuck in major traffic. The traffic accident reminds me of her accident in January, the bloodiness, the trauma. The moment she told me about how she saw the table falling on her and was thinking she was going to die. What a year she has had. Before I know it, I'm crying.
Finally, I get there. I park haphazardly, just trying to get to her as fast as possible. I look all over that farm. In that cabins - empty. The art studio, the dining hall, the barn. She is no where to be found. A young girl approaches me, "We lost Izzy." My heart sinks. "What? I'm sorry - what do you mean?" Giggles come from behind her. And there she is. Hiding from me. I grab her and give her a huge hug. She wiggles away and wants to show me everything. We run from one place to the next so she can give me a personalized tour. The way she walks is different. She is so confident, so independent, comfortable and fearless. "So, there is another session after this one. Can I come back?" "Not this year," I tell her.
We take pictures with her new friends, pack up the car and get going home. I quickly find out that when we open the suitcase, there will be "sleep barf" sheets in it. Apparently, the third night there she threw up in her sleep. She was so terrified she would be sent home that she stuffed the dirty sheets in her suitcase, put clean ones on her cot, and didn't tell anyone until now. She figured since was felt fine, it was a fluke. "Maybe it was the haggis?" she contemplated.
I ask lots of questions about what it was like. I want to know how every minute of every day was spent. It seems there were lots of chores. Morning chores, animal chores, dinner chores. She is proud because she was so responsible to do all these things. They also went to the Amish market a couple of times. She spent her money on presents for her sisters and parents. She also got a bracelet for herself and a cool crystal that has a light inside and glows in the dark. She went canoeing, but it rained and was cold. Bedtime was ten pm. That was very late - and therefore awesome. And the camp songs. So. Many. Songs. Pretty soon we are both belching out "Little Red Wagon" at the top of our lungs.
"Mama, you know the girl that won the Farm Show? She is really nice to animals, and really mean to people. It's not right that she won." We talk again about how life is not always black and white and fair. Seems we have had that conversation frequently this year.
"I loved everything about that camp. I only showered four times in two weeks!" I carelessly make a joke about how because of that she can't go back. She has a total nervous breakdown: huge tears, hyperventilation. "I'm just teasing you! Of course you can go back if you want." "Okay. I really want to go back. I loved it so much. Even the gnats were my buddies."
When we get home, she says, "How can I help you?" as we are unpacking the car. That seems to be the new thing. Now, we both love Farm Camp.