My daughter sobbed into the phone, "Mom, come and get me. I don't want to be here."
My 16-year-old was calling from our church camp 200 miles away. Her father and I had driven her there the day before to begin her job as a camp counselor.
"But Lee, you just got there," I replied. "What's wrong?"
"None of my friends are here from last year. I don't feel good. I want to come home."
I took a deep breath. "Lee, even if I could leave work and drive there, I wouldn't do that," I said. "You have to stay and work this out. The campers are coming in a few days. You promised to work, and you need the money for graduation next year."
I made Lee promise to call that night. Then, reluctantly, after a few more words of encouragement, I hung up.
Sitting at my desk, recalling her words, I wondered if I'd reacted too quickly. But as I sat there, I began to realize that saying no was probably the best gift I could have given my daughter, whose earlier years had been troubled.
She had been a premature baby weighing only two pounds. Later, in school, she had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. But she'd grown into a beautiful girl who loved to read Shakespeare and excelled at drawing. She dreamed of being an archaeologist, digging among the pyramids of Egypt. I was concerned, however, about her fragile self-esteem. I knew if I allowed her to give in to her fears, I would be undermining all her successes.
Ten minutes later my husband called. As I explained Lee's phone call, he began making plans to leave for camp after work.
"No," I said. "We're not going. She has to stay there and solve this without us."
That evening, I was condemned by various relatives, who offered to go pick her up themselves, but I stood firm. Still, as the evening wore on, I couldn't help but obsess over the day's events. Had I really done the right thing?
Finally, the phone rang. Lee was out of breath, having run from the campfire, suddenly remembering she was supposed to call. "Yes, Mom, I'm fine," she said. "My friends are here now. We're going to watch a movie now. See ya."
"Wait a minute! Are you sure you're all right?"
Of course she was. Her voice was carefree, but impatient with my queries. I wanted to ask, "Do you know what you put us though?" but she was too busy saying, "Love ya, Mom. Gotta go."
I breathed a sigh of relief.