When I picked her up from camp, she was not the usual I-HAD-THE-BEST-DAY-EVER kid that I usually find waiting for me. There had been some sort of frustration with a game and an accidental kick of a friend and general 8 year old turmoil.
And even though her awesomely great counselor walked her over to me to let me know what happened and reiterate to my daughter that everything was OK and no one was mad at her and that she is still his favorite kid and they have so much fun at camp and ...and ...and...the tears were still flowing.
She was too upset to talk about it right away. So we drove a little instead of going right home to cool off in front of the living room a/c unit.
She was quiet and so was I. She stared out the window and I thought about how to approach this day. She started to talk after a few minutes of silence. She was being so hard on herself. She was doubting everything good about herself. She was doubting ever trying this new camp experience. She was being human.
And I was so happy that she was still so young and I could comfort her in a much less complicated way than when she feels this way as an adult...because you know she will have days like this. We all do. Even if the tears don't actually fall and we just continue through our day, we all feel this way.
So I drove to the car wash two towns over. It's the only one she's ever been to. And she's only been there once. I pulled into the lot and pulled over to the side.
"Unbuckle and jump into the front seat."
"Why?" she asked before looking up from her lap of sadness.
"Look where we are!" I said.
She started to smile with her face still damp from tears and sweat (it's 95 degrees here) and jumped into front seat.
We set the car in neutral and chose the $11 dollar car wash option. We waved through our closed windows at the hard working guys hand drying our car and gave them a tip larger than usual but still less than a therapy session and a box of tissues.
And we washed it all away in the car wash and she told me her heart felt better.