Well, before I begin this post, I must note the death of one of my favorite news people. Tim Russert. We watch Meet the Press faithfully every Sunday morning. I am just flabbergasted. He is only 8 years older than I am! And he was so, so good. I loved his questions, loved the way he just jumped right in with questions, didn't hold back or get gossipy either. A nice middle ground. I will miss him.
And now...back to our regularly scheduled post.
Liv and I were sitting outside keeping Socks company while he ran around the back yard this morning. I had just picked her up from swim team practice and she still had her chlorine hair and oversized tee shirt on. We were talking about her swim meet that had been canceled on Wednesday due to bad weather. Liv was mourning the fact that she could have been a contender, dude...she had been so stoked about her breast stroke relay, just knew that a first place ribbon had been in her grasp.
Next time, I told her. There is always next week and the week after that and after that.
The phone rang. Liv ran in to answer it and bounded out a few moments later. It was her friend, Constance, on the phone, inviting her to go on a weekend trip camping and hiking with her family at a state park about three hours away. Could she go?
I studied Liv's face. Was surprised. Liv does not like to do overnights at other people's houses, let alone go on weekend trips.
"Do you want to go?" I whispered, careful to not let my voice be overheard by Constance.
YES!!! She did. I asked to speak to a parent and soon learned from Clara, Constance's mother, that yes, they were going camping and hiking. That it would be Constance's grandparents, her parents and her toddler brother. They would love it if Liv joined them. They would leave today at noon and not be back until Sunday evening. They had plenty of camping gear, Liv would only need to bring clothes, a swim suit, a sleeping bag and pillow and some good hiking shoes.
Liv was watching me, hope all over her face.
I said okay, sure.
Liv took Socks paws and danced with him.
I checked the clock. Two hours to get ready. We went in and took out Bing's father's day cake, all baked in the oven. Yes, we celebrate Bing on that day. I get mother's day. Bing get's father's day, although in our family we call it Bing's day. Liv had already sent her father, Tinton, a card and a drawing.
Liv and I packed her things and then I ran a bath for her, soaped up her hair and we talked. I asked her if she was sure she wanted to go? She had been away from home with her father last summer, but she never was too enthused about going anywhere overnight with any of her friends. Until now.
Liv paused. "Well," she said. "I think I'm ready. And since you and Bing don't like camping, I won't get many chances to do this kind of stuff unless Tinton is around. I think I'll have fun. I'll bring Cocoa (her bear) and I will call you a lot, okay?"
I said okay.
It would be kind of nice to have the weekend to myself. Bing and I haven't been getting along so well and there are a few issues that we should discuss but have been waiting for some privacy. Plus, now that I am off the prednisone, my right ankle is beginning to swell up, a concern. It would be good to elevate it and ice it without worrying Liv, who tends to do just that. An old friend of mine is in town from her home in Minnesota and it would be great to spend some time with her without trying to work around Liv. I couldn't remember the last time I had time on my hands, time without Liv around.
I helped Liv get ready, brushed out her hair until it shone golden in the sun. I bent down and kissed her cheek. She threw her arms around my neck.
"I love the way you smell," she told me. "You always smell like a soft pillow."
A soft pillow? I wasn't sure if that was good or not...
I pulled her long legged colt self into my lap. For once, she didn't squirm, but stayed put, leaning back against me.
"You'll miss me, won't you?" she asked, hopefully.
I assured her that I would miss her terribly. But, that I would just picture how much fun she was having hiking and swimming in a lake and getting bit to smithereens by mosquitoes and that would help....
"Will Bing be sad that I won't be here to celebrate Bing's Day?" she asked.
I told her that Bing would not be sad. And that we would save the cake for when she was home. We would all have a piece on Sunday night and I would make Bing wait to open the vase that Liv had made her in pottery class until she got home.
This reminded us that we still had to decorate Bing's cake, so we went downstairs to do that.
Liv wrote Happy BING day!! in bright purple icing on Bing's white cake with it's white frosting.
Suddenly, Liv's face clouded. "What's the weather forecast?" she asked, nervously. All of our tornado weather and storms this spring have turned my brave little girl into a shivery mess every time it rains. I told her that I was sure it was supposed to be fair and we went to check the weather on the computer, just to be sure. Liv wailed.
"It says a chance of rain on Sunday afternoon! What if a tornado comes and we are at the campground like those boy scouts on the news...."
I told her that there was only a 30% chance of rain and no tornado watches or even thunderstorm warnings. Just a small chance of rain. It would be okay....
Liv let herself be calmed down, but of course, the whole time I was soothing her, I was thinking to myself, OH MY FUCKING GOD...WHAT IF MY BABY GETS STUCK IN A TORNADO!!
I kept my face impassive and very cool.
Told myself to stop this shit now, dude.
Liv and I finished Bing's cake and then went to go sit outside and wait for Constance and her family to pick her up. I ticked off all her packed stuff in my head:
4 pair of undies. Check.
4 changes of clothes, including jeans and a sweater in case it got chilly. Check.
Pajamas and a swimsuit. Check.
Sleeping bag and pillow. Check.
Sunblock, tooth brush and paste, brush, hair detangler, soap, shampoo, neosporin. Check.
Constance's family pulled up in their mini van. Liv hugged me hard. Kissed me right on the lips seven times.
Yes, I counted. I stood up and waved, a big smile plastered on my face. Blew kisses.
The van turned the corner and was gone.
I looked down at Socks.
"Well," he said. "That was a mistake. She is only eight years old, alpha woman. She doesn't even like sleepovers, hates being away from home and now you have sent her off to the wilderness to get caught up in a tornado. Let's just hope she doesn't end up in Oz. Or the least you could have done was tell her that if she finds a pair of ruby slippers, that they will take her home to us, no need to go see any wizards or battle wicked witches..."
I sat down and hugged him.
"She'll be okay," I told him, sternly. "It is just for a weekend. She WANTS to go."
And then I put my head down and cried. Because it is hard for me to be apart from her. Because I forgot to tell Constance's mother that Liv is really afraid of storms now, that she is a good eater, but she sometimes has to be reminded to drink enough water to stay hydrated. That she has that bad scrape on her shoulder from when she was climbing that tree in the back yard and that it might need neosporin. I wanted to say that she has a hard time falling asleep sometimes, and it helps if you rub her back and hum a little. She hates the smell of sunblock, so sometimes you have to be stern about putting it on her...
Socks licked my face. "Don't worry. I'm sorry I said anything," he said. "God, alpha woman, what are you going to do when she goes to college?"
I didn't answer. Because college is a long, long time away. Because time goes by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday when Liv was refusing to stay in her stroller, she wanted to walk so badly. That one day I was letting her lick the bowl when we baked a cake and the next I was letting her do all the mixing, just supervising her. That it seemed like just yesterday when she was learning to read, to tie her shoes, to drink from a sippy cup instead of a bottle.
And now she is eight. And going on a camping trip. Without me.
I went inside and looked at the newly decorated cake.
HAPPY BING DAY!! it said, the purple letters crooked, but legible.
I grabbed an ice bag for my ankle and limped up to bed. Socks followed me.
Halfway up the stair to my bedroom, I went back down to grab my cell phone in case Liv called that instead of the home phone.
I got into bed, plopped the bag on my ankle and patted the bed. Socks hopped up and settled next to me.
The cell phone rang. I pounced on it.
It was Liv.
"Hi, Mama," she said. "I just wanted to say that we stopped at a gas station and instead of a candy bar and soda, I picked a granola bar and a juice."
I told her I was glad to hear it.
"Oh, and hey...I love you," Liv said. "Tell Socks that I love him too. I'll see you all soon, okay?"
"Okay," I answered, stunned at how calm and breezy I sounded. "I love you too, pumpkin. Bye now. HAVE FUN!"
I hung up the phone. "Liv loves you," I told Socks.
He sighed. "Tell me something I don't know, alpha woman," he said, and cuddled up close.