The Mystery of Letting Go

– Posted in: Bright Side of Life, Elfie, Family, Growing Up, Kid Friends, Life is a Mystery, Mouths of Babes, Newt, Parenting, School

“I just really don’t want to go. I’m going to miss you guys too much.”

My 10-year-old son is lying in his bed. I’m snuggled next to him, stroking his head. He finds a hole between my body and the mattress so he can get both arms around me. It’s like he’s holding on for dear life.

I knew this was coming. When the papers showed up for the wilderness camp that his school attends every year, he said he didn’t want to go. He went last year for two nights. He’d never slept away from home that long.

But he survived. He said it wasn’t any fun and that he “suffered” without us (I swear, my kids are trying to kill me). But I teased enough “I didn’t totally hate THIS part” out of him to convince me that he should go again (this time for three nights). His whole class was going. This year his little sister was going. It was an adventure. An “independence building exercise.” How could we cave and let him stay home?

My family is “tight.” The kids go on vacations with us. They don’t do many sleepovers. They like being home. They like having their “stuff.” I don’t know how much of that is learned or genetic because I was the same way. As a kid, I didn’t particularly enjoy staying at other people’s houses. I slept with my blanket until sixth grade (although you’d be hard-pressed to call it a blanket by that point since it was mostly a series of knots). I liked my family. When I left for college, I was a disaster. I knew the door to that life was closing forever, and I was so sad to see it shut.

I hated camp when I went as a sixth grader. But even now, as an adult, I don’t like participating in activities with shrill group leaders who expect you to act happy and enthusiastic about the super-fun game where you all stand in a circle and sit on each other’s laps. So encouraging my children to do this — forcing them to do this — feels hugely hypocritical. Be “better” than I was. Be stronger. Be more independent.

And then I think, why?

I turned out just fine. I got married. Had kids. I have friends. I travelled around Europe by myself. Lived alone in an apartment. I didn’t become some sociopathic freak. I didn’t even keep my blankey (not that there’d be anything wrong with that).

So after a night of many tears, we got up the next day and finished packing. Newt, my son, rallied. He’s developed what my husband describes as his “game face.” And it was on. Elfie, my daughter, seemed pensive. She’d always been excited about going (even if her big brother bailed), but the day before, she’d started getting worried about being away for the first time. Still, she was resolved.

The Mystery of Letting Go Then the drive to school, it happend. Elfie blurted out, “We remembered blankey, right?” Elfie also has a blankey (of course Elfie also has a blankey — feel free to get you dissertation going on that one).

“No,” I said. “I didn’t realize you wanted it.”

I could see her trying steel herself, but her eyes filled up with tears. “I’ve never slept a night without blankey before.”

“You haven’t?” How these things get by me is a mystery. Maybe it’s because she also sleeps with about fifteen other stuffed animals. Needless to say, when we got to school and I couldn’t peel her off me, I quickly ascertained that I’d be making another trip (see, I pick up certain things…). After reassuring her that I’d be back to put it in her bag, she gave me the tenth “last” hug and let me walk away.

And my child who cried himself to sleep? He ran into his best friend while we were putting down their bags. They started to walk inside together, and he almost forgot to say goodbye to me.

You just never know when or where or what or how anyone is going to let go.




20 Comments… add one

Kimberly September 18, 2013, 3:44 pm

I was a blankey girl, too. My mom crocheted mine for me before I was born. I brought it everywhere with me openly until almost middle school. After that, if I was spending the night away from home, I’d hide it in the foot of my sleeping bag. Ha.

When I worked as a counselor at the summer camp I attended (and loved- I’m very pro-camp, ha), I brought my blanket with me. I can’t tell you how many homesick campers I loaned that blanket to over the summers I worked there.

Now, my daughter is a blankey girl, too (more evidence for whomever decides to take on that dissertation, ha!). And her security blanket is MY blanket from 25+ years ago. Thank goodness for my mom’s habit of holding onto the end of skeins of yarn- she’s repaired that blanket so many times that it’s got more scars than Frankenstein’s monster. But nothing makes me happier than knowing how much it comforts my daughter- because I know that feeling.

I hope your kids have a blast! And that you can enjoy your alone time.
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Tammy September 18, 2013, 4:01 pm

Okay, that’s the BEST BLANKET STORY EVER! People should come here so they can read your comment, not my post.

Andrea September 18, 2013, 4:46 pm

I became a “bye, mom” kind of kid because my parents regularly sent me off on adventures. I would have been just as comfy staying home. My kids can be “bye, mom” kids too, but I have learned not to force it. When they get excited about going away, I am excited. If they aren’t, I’m not. I hope they learn to trust their instincts from this.
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Tammy September 18, 2013, 5:33 pm

That’s always my hope. That the kids trust their instincts. It’s just hard because I don’t want them to miss out on something because they were nervous about it. It’s like I have to keep convincing them, hey, this is going to be fun! What sucks is when it’s NOT fun, like the previous camp year. Ugh. It’s all just such a puzzle sometimes.

Cheryl S. September 18, 2013, 5:14 pm

I was a stuffed animal, specifically a battered white and black dog I copyright infringed upon by naming him Snoopy. He was not Snoopy. He had bells in his ears. I gave him furcuts. My mom washed him in the washer. I accidentally left him in the yard. He was my only friend. My dad had died. My mom worked nights. She would get home to find me crying inconsolably because I couldn’t find him. Out to the yard she would go. My mom is now sentimental but wasn’t then. She threw him away one day when I was at school. I would have loved to pass him down to my kids.

Tammy September 18, 2013, 5:35 pm

You just made me cry. I can’t believe that happened to you. I’m so sorry.

Ginger September 18, 2013, 6:04 pm

Both my kids are blankie kids…they call them “Neh-Neh” Charlotte’s began to fall apart, but I thought ahead and bought 3 of those suckers when it became obvious that she was attached…I used to be able to sneak into her room while she was sleeping, switch them out to wash, then one day out of the blue she realized what I was doing…oh no! Washing them was not allowed…gross…yellow blankie turned grey over time and I cut it into four squares because it was so big and she was dragging it everywhere, tripping over it, dragging it through rain puddles, the snow, whatever. I put away two of the big blankets,and then one day took those and all of the receiving blankets I used when she was a baby, including the small throw that comes in those baby sets and made her a quilt. I lined the entire edge of it in that blankie material. Her blankie squares that she dragged everywhere had been lost or disintegrated into nothingness….great sobs of grief over that. She now has a quilt that she can bring to sleepovers and not be shamed by blankie. She loves that thing, and it is one of the possessions I would grab in a fire. I also made a quilt for Rebecca out of her blankies….although

Tammy September 18, 2013, 6:28 pm

Oh my gosh! You’re just like that Kevin Henkes book!

Maxabella September 20, 2013, 3:13 pm

The letting go thing has always been hard for my kids and I suspect that’s largely to do with the fact that it’s always been hard for me!!! x

Tammy September 24, 2013, 2:20 pm

No doubt!

But surely I’m not projecting…;)

Rhianna September 21, 2013, 12:30 am

Kids hey? You just never can tell. I misread them all the time, or rather perhaps I should say they surprise me. I hope they both had a wonderful time
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Tammy September 24, 2013, 2:21 pm

They did, as it turns out. And yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if they were more book-like?

Shell September 23, 2013, 2:31 pm

Go figure it’s the one you weren’t worried about that would have you more worried when the time came!
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Tammy September 24, 2013, 2:21 pm

Of course, right? It always works that way. I’m not sure why I’m not used to it yet. Slow learner.

LindySez January 8, 2014, 5:46 pm

When I sent my son off for college, I think I needed a blanky…haha…growing up is hard to do.
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Elle January 8, 2014, 5:59 pm

You can never tell can you Tammy. Next time positions might be reversed or both might happily wave you goodbye. Point being you allow them to just be themselves, as they are in the moment. Kudos to great mummying!
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vinma January 8, 2014, 6:01 pm

oh..the poor kid! It must have been painful… But again, you never know what to expect from them..

Cher January 9, 2014, 8:27 am

Awww, it is so sad when that happens – almost as if you can feel their hearts break! My son gave his “lover kie” (he couldn’t say blankie) to his sister who promptly outgrew it. I still have it. Maybe I am the one with blankie issues!
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elaine schoch January 9, 2014, 1:41 pm

Too sweet… I would have brought the blanket up to school too. I hope they had/have a great time. 😉
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Jessica January 9, 2014, 3:41 pm

This is such a sweet post! I was a thumb sucker, so I guess you could say it, or my thumb, was like my blankie. I kept it as my comfort blanket until 13!

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