I remember watching a documentary about childhood where a Dad said that raising kids is just one long goodbye.
Every day is a day you’re never going to see again. Every moment you look at your child, and see those long lashes resting on rounded cheeks, the inexplicably bruised knees, those eyes glinting with mischief in the sun – those are moments that never come again. Every day they’re taller and stronger and just a little bit further away from you.
Now, by and large, I’m not sentimental enough to dwell on such thoughts. But some days the passing of time demands your attention more than others.
Yesterday, I dropped Flea off at a residential PGL camp for three days.
The camp is a 45 minute drive from our house (or 90 minutes, if you take into account my sterling sense of direction), and on the way there we drove through lots of villages I spent time in as a child. One in particular is where I used to go to walk our dog with my brother. There’s a lovely little canal, and we’d drive down in the evening, and walk the dog, and just chat idly about this and that. Girls mostly, as I recall.
It’s more than 15 years now, since my brother died, but it’s funny the way grief never really leaves you. I suspect everyone feels like this. It just sort of gets woven into you, and every so often, something reminds you that it’s there. It’s scary how time passes without us noticing. In a matter of months, I’ll be older than two of my brothers ever were.
And that’s the sort of thought that makes me want to hold on to Flea and never let go. To notice every day, while it’s here. There have already been so many days. And letting them go is harder than I thought it would be, if I’m honest. Way harder. Thank goodness for a blog, that prompts me to capture moments and notice them, especially when I might otherwise be too busy to do much noticing.
Because life moves fast, and Flea is already eight – old enough to be incredibly excited at the prospect of riding trapezes, building rafts and going abseiling. This trip also means three days of sharing a room with three other girls, and having no parents to tell them what to do. There will be orienteering and evening games, and friendships forged.
I’m excited for her, of course. I went on PGL as a kid and adored it. I am sure Flea will have a blast, and trips like this are a great way to build her confidence and independence, as well as letting her make new friends and try new experiences. I wouldn’t want her to miss out on this stuff.
But it strikes me that today Flea will be waking up with people I don’t know. She’ll be making friends with kids I’ll never meet. She’s writing her own story, and I won’t be a part of it.