A few people have told me they miss seeing Mazzy in my Instagram stories. IMAGINE HOW I FEEL!!! All week, we’ve been looking through photo galleries that the camp sends us nightly, searching the faces for our daughter and then searching her face for signs of happiness.

In the first couple of days, she looked a little shell shocked. Not sad. Just a little overwhelmed and unsure. In the next few days of photos, I couldn’t really tell. She was with other kids and at fun activities, but giving that same face she often gives me when I take pictures of her. Her obligatory close-lipped someone-is-taking-a-photo-of-me smile.

Also, in group pics, she always seemed to be a little off to the side. Not by herself or anything but not fully invested in the group either.

My favorite is trying to discern her state of mind from the back of her head. Does her hair look happy? Is she turned around because she is engaged in conversation with that kid behind her??? Is she never in shots of the pool because she’s trying to hang onto the blue in the hair? Is she wearing that same shirt too often? Is that a toxic substance she’s playing with??? It’s always hard to tell.

After one week in, I finally saw it. There she was in the middle of a picture with her bunk mates instead of on the outskirts. Clearly happy.

I also noticed that someone else was wearing her dress to what looked like a social, which made me feel good that she was sharing her stuff.

And then finally, the ultimate proof of happiness— a smile with TEETH!

When Mazzy is genuinely laughing and having a blast (not just posing for a pic), there are teeth! I know my daughter and this shot was real happiness.

I guess this is the benefit of sending your kid to camp for more than a week. And why we weren’t allowed to talk to her until week two. You give them a chance to find their bearings, get used to being away from home, establish some friendships… and THEN they really get to enjoy themselves.

It’s like how nobody buys that the Bachelorette falls in love with the Bachelor in such a collapsed amount of time. Real relationships don’t form that fast. Mazzy is like me. She acclimates, gets comfortable and gets to know people a bit before deciding they are her new best friends.

On Monday, we got our first letter! It was mailed to the city and I’m out at the house, so Mike had to take a picture of it for me.

I want to point out a few things.

1) She misses us!!!!

2) She has a friend. Yay!!!!!

3) We did not forget to pack her brush. We actually got an email two days prior from her counselor saying that Mazzy said she didn’t have a brush. I wrote back that I absolutely packed a brush. Check the pockets of her mesh shower caddy. I got an email back that same day that the brush had been located. How hilarious that I was so concerned about how she was going to manage her massive amount of hair by herself, and then she literally went a week without brushing it, all because I packed her brush in a place she couldn’t find it!!!

4) We did not forget to pack boots for horse back riding. The packing list said she could wear sneakers.

5) We totally forgot to pack her pillow. I was going to pack the silk one she sleeps with every night, but everything else was packed the night before. Then Mike zipped up the bags and put them in the car early that morning and I just plain forgot. Apparently she has been sleeping with a blow up pillow from the camp. Total mom fail. Although, I have since heard that a pillow is the number #1 item parents forget to pack for sleep-away camp, so that makes me feel much better.

6) I bet you are curious about the limo party. The night before Mazzy left, Harlow told us her friend is having a limo party for birthday. None of this is confirmed or denied.

7) Mazzy is obviously NOT focusing on her handwriting this summer.

The day after we received the letter, we had our first phone call with Mazzy. It was amazing to hear her voice. She sounded so little! For some reason, whenever I talk to Mazzy on the phone, I can’t tell if it’s her or Harlow. She sounds like such a little kid when I can’t see her.

It was a short phone call— we are only allowed five minutes. And I had to compete with both Mike (who was on conference call) and Harlow (who was next to me and very eager to do as much talking as possible) to get my questions in. If I could do it over, I would talk to Mazzy first with just Mike, and then call Harlow over to talk halfway through.

But none of that really matters.

My main takeaway is that Mazzy is having a really great time. That was obvious. They are allowed to pick two activity majors each week. She told me last week she picked science and fencing, which was surprising on both counts. But then she said that Science involves slime making and that choice made more sense. Harlow also pointed out later that fencing is something they do in Descendants 2, so that also makes sense.

For this week, Mazzy told us she picked science again and switched out fencing for theater set design, which sounds awesome. She also told me she tried the trapeze and she is going horseback riding for the first time tomorrow. I love that she is trying new things.

I had sent her a care package with a stuffed avocado inside and she said that it had become their bunk mascot. “Everyone wants to hug it,” she told me. That made me happy.

Then Mazzy had to go and Harlow got a little upset. I said, “Don’t worry! Visiting day is Saturday!!!”

I had to tell myself that too.

Later that night, when I was searching that day’s camp photos for Mazzy’s face, I found a group shot of her bunk. Everyone was making silly faces and Mazzy was sitting front and center, proudly holding her stuffed avocado.

The bunk mascot, courtesy of mom. It almost felt like she had a little piece of me there with her.

One last thing. My mom sent me this bizarre and hilarious video which pretty much sums up everything I just described. This video is from 2012, but apparently all camps abide by the same rules and have the same photo system as ours. It is somewhat comforting.

If your kid is away for the first time this summer, tell me how it is going in the comments below! Or, tell me about the funniest letter or lack of letter, you ever received from your kid at camp.