Amanda had been gone less than 24 hours when my friend who is at youth camp with them texted me this picture of her on the beach. She looked so pretty and like she was having fun. Each day they post pictures online, and each day, I've found her there, having fun.
Here she is with her condo group, and it reminded me of several truths about her that warmed my heart (seriously -- it's cliche, but I truly feel warmth when I think about it).
- She's tall. I think because she's closer to the front, it's a little skewed, but look at that kid! Okay, that doesn't warm my heart, but that smile certainly did.
- She's friendly. I don't know that girl standing right beside her on the end, and I don't think Amanda knows her either. But Amanda's literally enfolding her, making her a part of the group.
- She's wanted. At least 3 of the girls in her group requested to be with Amanda. As they were loading up the buses, we found out who their "condo Mom" was going to be, and we were excited about it. She also affirmed that Amanda would be with a couple of her best buddies there. Each mom had told me that her daughter really wanted to be with Amanda. One of them told me that her daughter said that Amanda was the one person she always felt comfortable with.
Amanda is a friend to all. I'm not saying that she's "Most Popular," but she always seems to be among the "Most Liked." She likes people, and they like her back. Even in 5th and 6th grades, when birthday parties begin to weed out casually-liked classmates for close friends, Amanda would get invitations from people I didn't even know she knew.
"Who is that?" I'd ask. "Do you want to go?" (knowing that the less-extroverted me would definitely opt-out of attending a party that wasn't really "my crowd" -- both in middle school and now).
"She's my friend!" Amanda always clarified. "She rides my bus/sits near me at lunch/is in my class. Of course I want to go!"
See, I do know all those things about Amanda. I've observed these strengths for many years. And as she's begun to mature, many parents and other adults that have interacted with her have told me what they see in her: leadership, kindness, enthusiasm.
But, as my friend Elizabeth noted: "How can I miss you, if you won't go away?"
I love seeing my kids grow up. I haven't hated the teen years, and I am not going into high school anticipating that, but the day-to-day challenges of dealing with an adolescent sometimes overshadow the loveliness of who she is becoming.
Need I clarify?
- Clean your room
- Do your homework
- Don't argue with me
- No, I'm not buying you that
- No, you can't wear that
Absence has indeed made my heart grow fonder. Or to be more honest, it reminded me of the fondness that has always been there. I'm glad she got to go away. But I'm even gladder of the text notification I got an hour ago letting me know that the buses are on their way home!