…actually it was a Subaru station wagon, but she’s gone.
Caroline, that is. Gone to spend the week eight hours north of home, with my brother and sister-in-law and their new baby.
I like to call it “protected independence.” Independence because, of course, she’s on her own. She has to make her own decisions and choose her own behavior. Protected, because her main chaperone is a fifth grade teacher and a really responsible aunt who really loves her.
But if course it’s hard for me to send her off. Because, let’s face it, I’m a total sap.
This weekend she and Jack rode in the annual neighborhood July 4th bike parade. I breathed a sigh of relief to see that nine years old wasn’t too old to string crepe paper through the spokes of her bike tires or tape flags on to her handlebars. I remembered with wistful sadness that exactly nine years ago, I plopped Caroline in her red Radio Flyer wagon, bedecked in a patriotic Gymboree outfit, and wondered as I pulled her along what it would be like when she was old enough to ride a bike.
That’s how it goes, I guess. In the morning you can watch your child be a child, and remember when she was a really small child, and feel like only ten minutes have passed between 15 months old and nine years old. Then in the afternoon you can hand her some “mad money,” remind her to brush her teeth and say her prayers and use her manners, and then say goodbye and send her off.
She’s called a few times. She’s deliriously happy.
Whit’s in a definite Daddy Funk.
Jack has already taped a note to her bedroom door telling her he misses her.
I’m enjoying having some Jack time, because he’s a funny kid (“Jack, how many months are in a year?” “Umm...all of them!”) and we’re planning to do things Caroline doesn’t like, like eat shrimp for dinner.
But still. We miss her. I miss her. And no one else wants to play with her guinea pig.