My teenager daughter left for Europe yesterday - a school trip (I know, I know…most of us went to the National’s Capital for the day when we were in high school). The tension was at an all time high at house all week long.While she did her homework (in advance) I did her packing - it is her first trip, after all. We’ve never been able to really afford a family vacation so consequently, none of my kids has been in an airplane (my oldest son just went last year with his school).
Now, my daughter is a calm, quiet type - very much the girl next door - attractive but anti-make-up. She thinks you shouldn’t need make-up to be presentable. (oh honey - after 40 - you need the make-up - it hides the circles under your eyes, it gives you your eye lids back and puts color into those fading lips.)She is also a far cry from being a fashionista. T-shirts and jeans are her uniform. So imagine my surprise as I pack the 14 tops the school has requested and she looks into her bag and exclaims (with disgust, I might add!) “Oh - I am not taking that shirt to Europe! And those pyjamas - no way - they’re skanky!” I watch her walk back to her room in a huff to find something else and wonder Who is that Girl?
Two days pass and we are in agreement -we are packed. On the way to the airport her Dad and I try to cram in as much advice as we can. Arriving at the airport we are greeted by the teachers who are in charge of this trip (andI do mean “in charge”). We stand around making idle chatter - oh - let’s face it - I’m still doling out the advice….and then they group together to check in their bags. We say our goodbyes with awkward hugs (oh Mom…!) and they congregrate to the the Do Not Enter Unless You Are A Traveller area. My husband asks me if I’m ready to go home…I tell him”not yet”. I know my child and I know that she is going to turn around when her peers are not looking to see if I’m still there. She does - and I am. I wink - she smiles, and then turns back to her friends. My husband and I begin to walk away and I have to admit I feel a bit bittersweet. I turn back for one last look at her in the line up - but I can’t find her. My eyes rapidly scan the swell of people and fall upon a familiar figure. A tall young woman, obviously a seasoned traveler - she tosses her hair back and laughs to the person next to her - then turns her head in my direction….Who is that Girl? And then my heart catches in my throat…it’s my girl…my daughter…growing up.