Last Monday, we dropped off our daughter for overnight camp. The camp system was flawless. Counselors greet the car. Kid comes out. Parents drive away. The process makes sense. No drawn-out goodbyes. A quick and sweet separation.
I knew all of this before we entered the car line. But I just couldn’t do it. As my daughter got out of the car, yelling a “see you soon”, I also jumped out. I gave her a huge hug and she began to laugh. As Annie walked over to her group, my husband and I immediately looked at each other. No tears from our daughter, but both of us began to cry.
We laughed through our tears and realized that this was it: the real transition of our child growing up. We felt proud of her and honestly, proud of ourselves. Our child understood (better than us) that two weeks fly by, and she would soon be back in our nest, safe at home.
In a discussion about the ways in which a child should be disciplined, the Talmud (Sotah 47a) explains, “It should always be the left that pushes another away and the right that draws him near.” Meaning, that while a child feels rebuke from a parent, they should likewise see the rebuker as one of understanding and compassion. Slightly pushing away while also drawing them close. A parent that can offer a critical eye with an open heart. Our tradition teaches us that a child grows not out of fear. Rather, a child grows through a foundation of love.
However, this time around, my child is the teacher, and I am the student. She gently pushed me away, reminding me that she is never too far away. Her laugh during our hug was the curriculum. This week, we are learning how to take pride in our parenting, feel secure in our daughter’s ability to voice her needs, and smile through our tears. She will be back; but for now, she is meant to be away.
Letting her parents grow more…day by day.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.