Get on the bus!
Sapphire had been counting down the terms, weeks, days and – finally – hours until the official commencement of her school camp.
She started packing on the Saturday when her friend Juliet was over, dusting her hands with satisfaction at her efforts.
“Do you mind if I check what you’ve packed?”
The hurt expression was enough for me to hastily wave my hand at her and say, “Oh never mind, I’m sure it’s fine,” and instead make a mental note to go through it all when she was at school on Monday.
Monday: Hmm. I was sure the note said no lollies and no electronics, so the chup-a-chups, musk sticks and Nintendo were taken out. I also decided that the lavender toilet spray was a tad unnecessary as well, and why a sachet of Sea Monkeys and three buckets of play-doh were included was a mystery......
Tea time, Tuesday night: “Mum the teachers say we can’t take a suitcase but just our school backpacks. If we can’t lift it ourselves, we can’t take it.”
(Me, sighing). “Well, if they send home a list entitled ‘What your child MUST bring’ and include a thick sleeping bag, pillow, warm winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, bathers, towel, sun hat, spare shoes, thongs, spare jacket, three t-shirts, an extra pair of trousers, reading book, note book, pencil case, camera, linen, waterproof bathroom bag, asthma inhalers and spare underwear, then you’ll need a suitcase.”
10pm, Tuesday: “Mum all of my clothes have to have my name on them.”
“Get back into bed NOW! ------ No, this chocolate is for your Dad and me, it has alcohol in it ----- I’ve written your name on your jacket and sleeping bag but I’m sure ----- no, don’t interrupt ------ I’m sure that no-one else in your class or dorm or canoeing clutch is going to have a farting dog t-shirt, blue cord jeans with snowflakes on the hem or a hot pink cap with a laughing kiwi bird on it, OK?”
At 11.30pm: The dishwasher was on; Milly had been taken outside for her last sniff at Skipper’s hutch and wee in the grass and was now circling around and around in her beanbag by the telly before settling down. The doors were all locked; Love Chunks was cleaning his teeth and I was going to check on – and kiss - what I hoped was a peacefully sleeping child.
She sat bolt upright as I crept in. “Mum! We have to bring our recess and lunch tomorrow but Mrs Larkins says it needs to be in a paper bag that we can throw away and it must have our name written on it clearly and a water bottle that fits in our bag or is a disposable one. Do we have any disposable ones? You said you don’t like buying them so can we just buy one for me to use for tomorrow from the corner shop on the way to school tomorrow?”
(Me, pushing her gently back down): “Sure, fine. Lie down now.”
Wednesday dawned at 5am for an excited Sapphire who found the four hour time-frame she now had for getting dressed, feeding her rabbit and eating breakfast was a bit long.
“Can I take my scooter up and down the street?”
“No love because it’s 5.45am and the neighbours’ll think a tram’s escaped and about to crash into their windows.”
“Would the shop be open for us to go and buy a bottle of water?”
“Why don’t we make some muffins?”
“Because I’m going back to bed for another hour or so and you’re going back to bed to read your book. Quietly.”
At 8.30am, we shut the gate on Milly’s puzzled face. “Sorry girlie, but there’ll be too many kids there at the gate this morning and dogs aren’t allowed on school grounds,” and set off to the sounds of her anguished howls.
Dammit, Sapphire’s suitcase did weigh a ton, but at least she would only have to lug it from the bus to her dorm and, right now was gaily swinging her bag of lunch, lasso-like, over her head. No doubt her saladas would be dukka crumbs by the time she got around to eating them.
9:15am found me home again, ruffling Milly’s ears in apology and promising to take her out for a walk later on that day. Two nights of childlessness meant that it was time to make some arrangements - whoo hoo!
I walked into the bedroom to find my address book and saw this note on my pillow:
Clutching the letter in my hand I found myself wandering into her room, looking at the bed which looked like she'd just leapt out of it; the colourful chaos of pens, paper scraps and crayons on her desk; her most favourite rocks and pebbles lined up in a row on her shelf alongside some Wallace and Gromit figurines.
God I missed her.