“I’m a little bit sad,” my son used to say to me when he was three. “I miss my Tatie.”
And by Tatie he meant his best friend Katie who he’d just seen the day before. Or maybe an hour before.
“It’s okay, buddy,” I’d tell him, giving him a hug. “We’ll see Katie soon.”
My son would say this often about Katie when he wasn’t with her and my husband and I found this adorable. “I’m a little bit sad,” became vernacular for us.
“I’m a little bit sad Alias isn’t on anymore,” my husband would say as he was flipping channels after the show ended because of his crush on Jennifer Garner.
“I’m a lot a bit sad,” I’d tell him because it was Alias that introduced me to my forever #1 boyfriend Bradley Cooper.
Or, “I’m a little bit sad we’re not going to Italy this summer,” I’d say as we pulled the camping gear out of the shed for our yearly vacation.
“You’re going to be a little bit sad for a lot of summers,” he’d joke.
To us, “I’m a little bit sad,” was funny. A reminder of our sweet and sensitive toddler.
But Jennifer Garner doesn’t play college students anymore. Now she plays middle aged moms.
And we still don’t get to go to Italy this summer, but we also haven’t gone on a family camping trip in a really long time.
Because while still sweet and sensitive (a little), my son is not a toddler anymore. He graduated from college two weeks ago. Today he starts a five month engineering internship 375 miles away that will likely lead to a job. And even though he’s been away at school for four years it’s different this time. Permanent.
And I’m so happy for him and so proud of him. Happier and prouder than I’ve ever been.
But also, as he drove away a tear unexpectedly rolled down my face.
Have you ever done something scary? I have. If someone told you to jump off a cliff would you do it? I did.
Seven years ago we went on a camping trip to an awesome campground (with a funny name) called Dinkey Creek located in the Sierra National Forest near Shaver Lake.
There are so many great places to camp in the Sierra National Forest, but it’s not exactly close. The car ride was about four and a half hours long. (But totally worth it. We’ve been to a lot of campsites in California and Dinkey Creek is definitely our favorite.)
We’d been there the year before and we loved it because we felt its beauty rivaled Yosemite. (Plus, unlike Yosemite, there are no bears!)
We got a sweet camp site to call home for a few days.
We found an out-of-the way hike to these beautiful granite pools.
There were swimming holes that Dave and the kids swam in. I tried to swim with them but found the water much too cold. It actually made me feel like I couldn’t breathe.
Back near our campsite there was another swimming hole with a natural rock water slide. Kids would take blow-up rafts -the kind you would usually lounge in a swimming pool on- and ride down it.
Our beloved dog Pearl loved climbing the big rocks. She loved resting in the shade even more.
There was also a swimming hole with a big rock that people were jumping off. A BIG rock. It was probably 30 20 feet high. (Dave says 15, but I’m sticking to 20.)
Chandler wanted to jump. He was only nine years old, but I was excited that he wanted to do something so daring. (See photo above!) The water was deep and it looked safe. Scary as shit. But safe.
But Chandler was hesitant. (Who wouldn’t be?) I could tell that he wanted to do it more than he didn’t want to do it, so I told him if he jumped then I would too.
So he jumped.
(Well, there may have been some hemming and hawing and pacing back and forth involved.)
He liked it so much he did it again.
Afterward he swam back to us and told me it was my turn.
I wasn’t lying when I told him I’d jump, but I wasn’t really serious. I figured he’d jump and feel good about himself and not hold me to my end of the bargain. I asked him if he really wanted me to. He said he did. So I swam to the other side and climbed the rock.
And then I looked down. Rocks aren’t like cliffs. (Not that I’ve ever jumped off a cliff.) They kind of curve and you can’t really walk to the edge. You sort of have to push off and jump up and out. (In retrospect I should have checked out the jumping situation for Chandler’s sake from the top of the rock before giving him permission.) I stood at the rock and I couldn’t do it. It was too scary. There was no way I could jump.
I looked at Chandler across that water and called out to him, “I’m sorry Buddy. I don’t think I can do it. I’m so proud of you for jumping, but it’s too scary for me.”
And he started to cry.
“You promised,” he said. “You said if I jumped you would jump. You promised.”
And the fear of willingly breaking a promise and disappointing my son outweighed my fear of jumping.
So I took a deep breath. And I plugged my nose (because I’m so graceful).
And I jumped.
And I will never ever ever do something like that again! (But I’m glad I did it that once.)