Mum’s the word: She’s off, without a backward glance

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Youngest Child is going to Guide camp. Her first time away without a parent. How will she cope? Will she miss me?

“Duh. Course not,” she says.

“I can come and get you at any time. Just get them to phone me.”

“Whatever.”

Next evening she’s off, without a backward glance. I cry. Middle Child sends me to bed, where I sob into Biggie Smalls, the feline hot water bottle.

The following afternoon there’s a call. It’s Youngest.

“Sniff, hello Mum, sob, sniffle.”

“Baby! Are you all right?”

“Sob. Yes, it’s just I miss you.”

“I miss you too. I bet you’re having a really nice time.”

“Well, yes, but I was thinking about you, and how I have no grannies, and Margaret was like my granny but then she died and … sob. Oh, got to go … busy. Bye.”

There are background shouts and laughter then the line goes dead. I cry some more.

Next day she’s back, grubby and full of chat about the beach, rock pools, her four terrible injuries in two days.

“Well, you’ve had a brilliant time. And you did the right thing to phone.”

“Eh?”

“When you phoned. If you’re a bit sad, it’s the right thing to do. I missed you too. And I maybe cried a little bit as well.”

“Did you? What a freak.”

That’s my girl.

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