My older girl is Little Miss Confidence. This is more than just a little bit surprising, considering her gene pool. It's amazing, at times difficult to relate to, sometimes it's useful because I send her to do the things I don't like to do. She's an inspiration for me oftentimes. Who wants to be outconfidenced by a four year old after all?
Other times, it's a heavy load to carry. Especially when you find yourself on a wide beach with an expanse of mudflats and no trace of your 4 year old.
We've done the drill - in calm explanation, in panicked raised voices, when I had feared for the worst. Yet still, she will run off. Not to spite, not to hide, just because she's confident to find her way. Yesterday she made her way to find my travel companions. She didn't find them and when I got there, there was no sign of her. But you know, she knows what to do: she went back to where we had parted, told the people who had done some felting with her that she couldn't find her mummy and waited. And of course, I came back there first, just in case she'd done that. I was full of fear and pride at the same time, and we had a very emotional moment.
With this emotion still very present, when I lost sight of her today (I'd gone back to fetch the camera), even knowing she was well looked after, did not calm my nerves. I walked for at least an hour and could not make out her shape, or the shape of the group I was looking for. Every minute I tried hard to remain calm and enjoy the beauty of the day and the location, there at the water's edge in the balmy pools of the low tide, she was with my friend and her husband, a better than usual 2 adults to 3 kids ratio; she was with her friend who she plays with intensely and who doesn't give her reason to run off, plus the newly reinforced rule no. 1 for the beach (do not run off at all, it's at least 20 times worse than pulling hair) was still very present. I knew she wouldn't run off, I knew she would be safe.
Yet as I walked the shoreline of the ever expanding landscape in front of me, I felt very small and helpless, and lonely.
Of course she was fine. Though she HAD wondered where on earth her Mama had run off to...