Sunday, March 29, 2009

Miss Tweenie Goes to Washington

We just shipped Tweenie across the continent Thursday on the obligatory Jr. High trip to Washington, D.C. Had mommyhood used a Homeland Security color-coded crisis scale, I'd have been hitting the RED-RED-RED-RED level for most of the last week.

First, of course, is shipping my firstborn to the other side of the country, by plane, up in the air where there is a long way to fall if something should go wrong. She is, for the first time, not close enough for Momma to come to the rescue at the first sign of trouble. That's enought for me to have the MomPanic-O-Meter needle hitting the highest levels.

But the panic began before we pried our fingers off of her too-grown-up little body and sent her on the bus to the airport. Looking at D.C. weather reports, and seeing the lows of 33 and highs of 55, I went into Momma Bundle Alert, with the instinctual priority of making sure one's child is always warm. The premise of this instinctual act is that sweating is good, but freezing is not. This Momma instinct is normal, which is all well and good, except for one thing: Ever tried to find winter clothes in a So. Cal beach town in spring??? You're better off trying to find a capital L liberal at Falwell's church. So that's when the real panic began.

We managed to find what we needed through begging and borrowing, and found a relatively affordable yet acceptable teen brand jacket online. I feel like I've been living off lists for months! But with it all checked off, we shipped her off with her three little girlfriend roomies, kissed her goodbye, then waved and texted goodbye. I managed to refrain from tears until I was in the car. Little Man, who had been thrilled at the possibility of having free run of the computer and Wii for a week, with no sis to bug him, got very quiet in the car. "Mom," he said in his tiny boy voice, "I miss Tweenie already!" I told him that I did, too, and mopped my tears on my t-shirt sleeve as we drove home.

We are now on Day 2, and with nearly 90 text messages from Tweenie, my stress level is down to ORANGE. Yes, that was 90 texts. (And I was worried about her not calling!) At first they were the mandatory "We're getting on the plane," "Flight delayed 1 hr.,"and "Landed - love you." But now, we are getting the Huell Howser travelogue of the trip, with frequent 4 and 5 a.m.( our time) texts. Of course, I am keeping the phone next to the bed in case of emergency, so I am waiking up every time it goes off. I am exhausted. But I am thrilled she's so excited about seeing the cherry blossoms. And I am delighted, above all, that she wants to share it all with us. Pics, comments, nervousness, giggle fits, souvenir purchases, amazement: we're hearing it all. I'm hoping to find a way to print them all out, as it's turning into a sizable trip diary that will be wonderful to read years from now.

Best of all, she's demonstrating to me that she a the kind of capable, strong, sweet, practical, idealistic, smart kid we have been hoping to raise all along. I am thrilled by her reactions to Amish country, to seeing Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. I am amazed by her reactions to the Newseum and the cherry blossoms and crossing the Potomac. I absolutely love that she hopes to catch a glimpse of our Democratic President, even if it's only on Marine one flying overhead. I'm extremely proud of our ever-so-quickly growing up girl.

As of Tweenie's last post, they were in D. C. proper, she and her cute tweenie posse, and a jillion other jr. high teens. And God bless those brave middle school chaperones - may He help them keep their sanity while introducing a new generation of citizens to the roots of American democracy. Through her texts, I can see that she's becoming all the things we wished she'd be one day. New text, with beautiful photo of The Capitol, clear blue skies, The Mall bright green. Message: "OMG! We get a tour inside it l8r! So coooooooollll!"

That's my girl. Momma stress level? GREEN. At least until it's time for the flight home.