(Anyone feel like breaking into the song from An American Tail?)
It's almost 2:30am. I'm awake. Nothing unusual in that. But I'm hoping that Annie is asleep. I don't know for sure because she is on a bus with her classmates somewhere between Washington D.C. and here. They are making their way home from their 8th grade class trip.
We dropped her off at school at 7am Monday morning to board the bus. She had fruit snacks, granola bars, gum, magazines, books, her camera, spending money and NO cell phone. In fact, none of the kids had phones with them -- they were outlawed on this trip so that the kids would fully engage in the experience, not spend all day with their heads bent over little cell phone screens.
Totally understandable. Great idea. But hard for this Mom. We had phone numbers for the chaperones and were free to call them to get in touch with our kids. But I wasn't about to risk the "MOM! That was so embarrassing!" lecture, so I resisted. Annie did call on Monday night to let us know they'd arrived at the hotel. (The teacher coordinating the trip sent nightly e-mails so we weren't completely incommunicado.)
By Tuesday night, I was definitely missing her. I wanted to talk about her experience at Arlington National Cemetery. I wanted to know if she slept well in the hotel. I didn't expect her to call, but I would have been happy if she did.
On Wednesday, they went to the Holocaust Museum. I wanted to know how it moved her. I thought she might call. But the phone remained silent. I saw a few Facebook updates from her friends and hoped that she might have stopped at the hotel's lobby computer or found a friend with an iPod touch, just so I could hear from her, or better yet, see a picture of her. No such luck.
I knew she was having a good time and that no news was good news. But boy, was that hard. By Thursday afternoon, I was contemplating -- out loud on Facebook -- whether I should call one of the chaperones' phones to talk to Annie. I really thought all my FB friends would say, "Sure! Give her a ring!"
Nope. I was counseled to wait it out, which would have been tough to do. I was rescued by an e-mail from one of the chaperones. There was no message, only this wonderful, awful, grainy picture of Annie next to Fonzie's leather jacket at the Smithsonian. It was so good to see her smiling face!
It turns out, I wasn't the only one missing Annie. Robbie has been counting down the days to her return since Monday afternoon.
Charlie was a completely different kid without her here. Usually, he is the kid that you have nag, nag, nag, prod and plead to get chores done. Without Annie here to fill the shoes of responsible oldest kid, Charlie stepped up.
He picked up the family room without being asked. He did his homework without reminders. He helped Robbie with his homework. I'm wondering if we can sneak Annie home without letting Charlie know? I'm totally enjoying this new-found son of mine.
We finally heard from Annie at 8pm last night, when she called to say they were boarding the bus for home. I talked to her for a few minutes. Mike did too. I was surprised when Charlie said he wanted to talk to her, and even more surprised when I heard him say, "I miss you. I love you."
I'm enjoying the memory of that because I'm sure by tonight, they'll be back to picking at each other. Just as it should be.