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

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.”

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“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.

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

“Sniff, hello Mum, sob, sniffle.”

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“Baby! Are you all right?”

“Sob. Yes, it’s just I miss you.”

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“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.”

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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.

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

“Eh?”

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“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.”

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That’s my girl.