You know that saying by Elisabeth Stone about the feeling as a parent that your heart is walking around outside your body – well right now part of my heart is in Canberra and we can’t see or talk to her for three and half days. It hurts a bit.
Of course she’ll be fine, our Miss Yin, on the big Sydney/Canberra school trip – busy, tired and free from electronic devices (which incidentally is a great idea – we couldn’t phone home from camp when we were kids, let alone connect on social media!).
Remarkably she’ll be fine – to think that less than 18 months ago when the Year 5 camp was on at the beginning of the school year we had a precautionary overnight stay nearby on the first night, such was her separation anxiety.
She was fine then (as I wrote about), resilient, and we were as proud of her then as we are now.
She’s grown up – she turns 12 the day after she gets back from camp. 12!
Of course there’s lots of growing up still to do. There was the embarrassment of having to pack a special little bag just in case that first period arrives (thankfully for her I think that’s a way off) even though I had to ‘touch wood’ at the slightest suggestion it might happen. And I had to plan each day’s outfit for her (I don’t think she’ll be taking fashion advice for too much longer, but it is nice to think that Mum still knows best).
The day before camp we (she and I) finally went to see the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’. I probably don’t need to bother with a spoiler alert, as I’m sure most people have seen this wonderful movie by now – if not you really should.
The main character Riley is a girl Miss Yin’s age, on the cusp before childhood ‘descends’ into adolescence. The movie is an amazing look inside her head, as characters that represent her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger) navigate a life-changing move with her parents to a new city, away from all that feels familiar and all that childhood represents.
The character that is the emotion Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) has been in control of a largely happy childhood and she’s determined for it to stay that way, always sending Sadness to the corner and trying to limit any memories made in Anger, Disgust or Fear.
It is funny, sad, poignant and guilt-inducing – an emotional rollercoaster as you would expect. You wince as a parent thinking of a memory store of unhappy or ‘less than’ memories that your anger, criticism or just inattention has created for your child, but you smile and laugh too at the stockpile of happy moments you’ve created together.
I ask Miss Yin about her favourite scene and she tells me it is when Joy finally realises that Sadness has her place in life – that sometimes we have to sit with Sadness and listen to what she has to tell us. I smile (with tears in my eyes) as I think of Miss Yin having learned the lessons of resilience we’ve tried so hard to teach. Indeed from coping with adoption, to wrestling with her own thoughts on the complex tangle of circumstances surrounding the start of her life, to standing tall and proud even when her group doesn’t place at a dance eisteddfod, Miss Yin demonstrates resilience over and over.
She’s growing up, not that much physically – she’s one of the smallest in her class. I hope that the first boyfriend, and especially that first period, will be a couple of years away yet, but maybe I’m just being naive in hoping Joy can keep childhood humming along a little longer and teenage angst at bay.
What I do know is that I want our girl to grow from the inside out. I don’t want her to to have the external trappings of adolescence before she has the internal maturity to handle it. I have to admit that the adolescent attitude is well underway and her own mobile phone will be due once she hits high school but we’re working on self-esteem, empathy, confidence and above all resilience to cope.
Proud Mum boast (in case you hadn’t heard) – she made it into her Dance Excellence program for Year 7 – official word arrived over the school holidays and then I saw her eyes light up as we watched a stunning Ballet Revolucion performance, a birthday present for us both. She’s shining up on stage – from the inside out.
OK – end of gush. I’m just reminded once again how much our kids teach us and how they remind us that what’s really important always comes from the inside out. All we have to do is shine. And keep growing.