Monday, July 26, 2010

Girl Scout Camp

This weekend my daughter went to three days of Girl Scout day camp. I was signed up to go for three days with her. I was set and poised to go through three days of mud, sweat, sun, and fun all for her. She's nine, and this was her first experience with camping. I didn't know how she'd do. Would she fit in? Would she drink enough water? Would she stay with the group? You have to understand that my daughter's a lot like me. While we like to be social, we also like to be alone. We're not your typical girly girl. I think we both have tried to fit in with girls. And there are some girls that like us, but a lot don't either. I just wanted to be sure that she wouldn't be wandering through the day by herself.

But after one day of camping, I was done. I live in Kansas, and let me tell you, it was hot! It was so hot, no human being should be out there. It felt like I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on. It was just gross. I would have endured this if I felt like my daughter needed me. But I saw her purposely hanging back with me, asking me to do things that I knew she could do herself. She was reallly concerned about me and my fitting in. I really felt like this was inhibiting her.

So, when I got up the next morning, I just decided I could not do one more day. When I broke the news to her that she was going to camp without me, she just looked at me and said, okay, shrugging her shoulders. Later, she professed that she was glad I was not going. I asked her why, and she said that now she could walk up front with the girls. I explained to her that she never had to stay with me if I did something as a parent with the group of girls, that I was there for her. I also told her I was glad that she was able to do all of these things without me. I told her my job was to get her ready to go out in the world so that she could go out and shine and just be herself. When she came home that night, I asked her how her day had been. She said it was the best day of her life. I smiled and thought that I must be doing my job if she wanted to go to camp without me.

Monday, July 19, 2010


So, as a single mom, sometimes I have to deal with sticky questions from my kids. I have twins, a boy and a girl, who are nine. Every parent has to start answering questions about all kinds of things in life at that age. I am absolutely sure that these questions will only increase as they get older. Tonight we had quite a lengthy conversation about the divorce between their father and myself. They wanted to know how long we had been married, why we got divorced, why I had initiated it. Then we went on to whether I would date or not. Their father is dating. I have not dated at this point. We have been divorced for five years. I would date if someone showed up that I felt was worthy to date, but that hasn't happened. This is just a recent development. For so long, I just felt so wary and exhausted from men. But that's a whole different subject.

As my kids were plying me with these questions, I'm thinking, here we go. Here are all of the questions that I would rather not answer, that I would rather leave in the past. But they seemed ready. So as honestly and age appropriately as I could, I answered their questions. I didn't tell them anymore than what they asked, but I did try to be as honest as I could. I tried to answer from my perspective as unbiased as I could. I tried to do this as respectfully towards their father as I could. They seemed satisfied with what I answered. They had their opinions on the subject, and I let them air those opinions. I always think honesty is the best policy. It's not always the easiest, and I definitely think as they get older it may really not be easy to be open, but it's the best. And I will strive to be as honest as I can. How else can they learn from me?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

People Watching at the Pool

One of the things I love to do the most is take my kids to the pool. I have to admit that I am rarely one of those moms who gets in the pool and plays with the kids. I love to take my book, spread my towel out on the chair and read. It is so relaxing. Almost as much fun as reading at the pool is people watching. I think people forget that they are in public when they're at the pool. Maybe it's because you go to the pool in your swimsuit. Let's face it, it's almost like going in your underwear. Some people's swimsuits are even more bare than underwear. Whatever the reason, people just let it all hang out at the pool (literally and figuratively). They just forget that other people can and do see them. I probably do the same thing.

Today, I watched this elegant old lady (She really was old. She was shuffling instead of walking). She was dressed in an Esther Williams-like, black swimsuit. Her gray hair was perfectly coiffed from an era long gone by. And for her age, her body looked really good. She was truly joyful to be there. She was walking by the pool towards her lawn chair when a woman in her late thirties swooped down upon her. This woman was a little heavy set, was wearing a tankini, and her blonde hair was unfashionably braided. She lit into this woman. You could tell that she was furious with this woman. The younger woman pointed towards the direction that the older woman had just come from and strode angrily off. The older woman started shuffling after the younger woman. She did not seem upset. In fact, she forebore this treatment very patiently. She arrived where her daughter (I'm assuming) was busily spreading blankets out on a couple of beach chairs. Then the older woman slowly and elegantly sat down. The younger woman continuted her tirade, gesturing, pacing up and down, getting in the woman's face. Her face became so twisted up with anger that at first I thought she was smiling; and I thought maybe she had been joking with the older woman all along. I realized though, that she had just twisted her face into a horrible, angry grimace. I really could not tell that the older woman had even spoken. There was no gesturing. she did not even move her head. She stared straight ahead with her hands in her lap. But she must have said something, because the younger girl became more and more agitated until she finally sat down in her chair (two seats away from her mother) in exasperation.

Now, at first I thought that the poor, older woman was the victim in all of this. But upon further reflection, I think she was the passive-agressive manipulator. I think that over the years she had honed this quiet way of controlling and making others feel helpless and small. It was something about her manner, the way she was dressed. Even though I thought her daughter was behaving abominably, I think she was desperate and frustrated. Remember, that things aren't always what they seem. In fact, I have found that most of the time, things are almost just opposite of what they seem.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

I just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. What an amazing book! At first, I did not think I was going to be able to read this. The characters in this book live on New World. In this world, a war occured, a germ was spread, and everyone can read each other's thoughts. You can even hear animals' thoughts. This is what tripped me up at first. The main character, Todd Hewitt, has a dog; and the reader gets to know what the dog is thinking also. I arrogantly did not think I was going to be able to handle this. Thank goodness, I stuck with it. Within only about 5 pages, the dog did not bother any longer. This book just took off. Ness has quite the imagination. Just when I thought I knew where this book was going, he would surprise me with another twist. There are two other books in this series. One is published, one is not. I cannot wait to read them, because hardly any of my questions from the first book have been answered.

All of the characters are very vivid and well developed. My heart was constantly bleeding for Todd Hewitt. And yes, I even grew to love the dog, Manchee. This book was written just like a screenplay. I would not be surprised to see it in the theater soon. It was a great ride.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Grand Canyon

I finally have time to write! Seriously, this is the first chance I've had to write since I got back from vacation on July 2. I went on vacation with my two kids, who are nine, and my mom to Yuma, Arizona, The Grand Canyon, and a short day stop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We drove from Kansas City. That sentence is a loaded sentence. Anyone who has driven 24 hours one way should know how loaded that sentence is. I drove because of the horrible airfares and air restrictions, and I used to think I was a driver. Now, if I can't get to a place by driving in one day, I think I will fly. As lovely as the landscape was, driving for 12 hour stretches with two kids and a mom was just too much for my mental state.
You might wonder why I went to Yuma, Arizona, right? I decided to make this trip and make it part of my and my kids' vacation because my sister and her family just moved there. Her husband is a marine, and he just took over command there. I felt it was really important to be there for her, and it was. I am so glad I did that. There are moments in life that are really important to other people. These moments may take time and effort from others, but it is really imortant to be there. And it was really fun.
But I learned some important lessons about myself and traveling. First, a ten day vacation is too long. I think five days is pretty perfect. I really did get homesick for my house and routine. Second, I think I am a one destination kind of girl. Going from place to place, staying in several hotels, opening and closing the suitcases, traveling in that blasted car was incredibly gruelling. I would much rather pick one destination, stay awhile, and really explore what the place has to offer. Third, and I'm iffy on this one, more than one day of traveling by car in order to reach the destination may kill me. This was a weird vacation, though, because it was kind of a joint trip. My mom was definitely going to go to my sister's thing and presented that to me. I wanted to also incorporate the Grand Canyon. It was way too much.
I may sound negative, but I truly am not. This was an amazing way to see the Southwest, and the landscape was incredible. The culture was very different. We stopped at a restaurant in Wyckam, Arizona (Nana's Sandwich Saloon, which was superb), and my daughter said, "I feel strange. I'm different here." That's one of the amazing things about traveling. You get to see how different people are, even in your own country. I loved seeing my sister and her family. My kids did too. However, I know I will travel differently next time.