Monday, September 27, 2010

She's Baaaack!

I'm back from the 3-day Girl Scout camping trip and I survived. Heck, I thrived!

Major Lowlight:

The latrines. Dear Lord. I've traveled the world. I camp. Cold-War era train toilets in Romania? Check. Self-dug poo trench in the Yucatan? Sure. Nothing prepared me for the odor emanating from the latrines at Girl Scout camp.

I am normally one to say, "C'mon, it's really not that bad," in an effort to keep the whining at bay. This time, however, I was the biggest whiner of all. It smelled so bad I could taste it. My eyes burned and teared every time I crossed the dreaded threshold of all that is unholy.

All of my senses were assaulted and insulted by the experience. Some of the little girls tried to hold it all weekend. But a peri-menopausal 40-something mom? Not an option.

Major Highlight:

Getting to know 11 nine year old girls was fantastic! At the beginning they were like (insert skeptical, possibly disdainful facial expression here), "Who is Mrs. See and why is she chaperoning us?!" By the end, they were crushing on me big time, eagerly letting me fill in for the mommies who couldn't be there.

This was such a special opportunity for me. I realized that since I quit teaching, I haven't had the same chances to pour my heart into kids that I used to. I know that sounds weird coming from someone who stayed at home with her kids for 9 plus years. It is weird, but true.

In fact, I think perhaps having my own kids closed me off to an extent toward other kids. It was as if keeping my own alive, and then navigating their highs and lows was all I could manage, and sometimes not so well at that.

Instead of really being able to notice and appreciate most other kids, I've spent the past years assessing how kids are interacting with mine, and being easily annoyed with anyone who is not the fruit of my loins (do I have loins?). Combine that with an unhealthy dash of comparisons and competitiveness, and you can see how a certain brittleness about other people's kids has flourished. Flattering, I know.

This is far removed from my mom's attitude. She always seemed to "get" that giving part of herself to another kid never took one thing away from us. I think that is why she attracted so many "strays" over the years.

So, even though I dreaded going to camp and only did so out of guilt for having been a really bad Scout Mom, it gave me the chance to spend time with the girls and appreciate who they were, not who they were in relation to my kids.

They were charming, quirky, funny and needy. They were spunky, shy and lovable.

Molly's independence and self confidence helped free me to spend time with the other girls. Now before you think I ignored Molly the whole weekend, I will tell you she and I slept together inside one sleeping bag Friday night. Cozy.

And, not only did these cuties teach me more about myself, and how there is much more to give than I think, they taught me how to make my first key chain out of GIMP! Yes way.

By Far the Biggest Highlight:

Last night at bedtime Molly said, "You did GREAT, Mom! You didn't embarrass me or anything."


Kristina P. said...

Well, that is one ringing endorsement!

Jill said...

I totally get what you mean about "other peoples kids"... I've tried so hard, yet have felt very similarly re: those who I don't interact with every single day.

But the last line, so true to a 9 year old ... I'm both laughing and crying all at the same time!

So glad you had fun. Such a great photo of you!

Anonymous said...

I am writhing in sympathy about the latrine situation. Maybe you should have pulled a Yucatan on the place and steered clear.

You have a knack for expressing how I feel quite often. I am always being super judgy and making comparisons between other kids and my own. The judginess goes both ways--sometimes my kiddo is far superior, of course! But other times he doesn't measure up, and that makes me get all weird. I need to learn a lesson from your weekend with the girls.


Laura Marchant said...

what a great time well minus the smell.

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

Now if that's a picture of you and Molly right after you returned from camping, I'm gonna cry; because I NEVER look that good even after a weekend at a 5 star hotel!

Ellen aka Ellie said...

I don't like children in general. Oh, that sounds bad coming from a 4th grade teacher, doesn't it? What I mean is, other than work, I don't really like hanging out the same places kids do. However, when it comes to my kids? I am fiercely loyal and fiercely in love.

We take quite a few walking field trips (to the town elder day care center), and it's always interesting to see which child or children wants to walk and talk with me.

As for the johns? On my three mission trips to Mexico, the worst being in August, we learned to hold our breath for a very long time, and we modeled our vaults from the porta potties on one our fellow travelers college track days. Quite the work out just going to the "bathroom."

Christy said...

Awww what a great weekend Anna! Loved this. I totally get what you're saying too....since mine are so little I 'm just trying to make sure no one gets hurt, but I can imagine I'll be feeling the way you have in a few years! Great post. Loved reading it! xo

Heidi said...

You know you did good after hearing that from Molly. That is some seriously high praise.

I've decided to go into Ben's Kindergarten class every Wed to read and I've been reminded of how ridiculously cute kids are. It's a nice reminder to have.

I really loved this post and I'm glad you had such a good time.

nonlineargirl said...

Sweet! Sounds like fun, the toilets notwithstanding.

I occasionally have those moments with other kids. Last night my almost 3 year old neighbor leapt from her father's arms into mine and I was so charmed by this tiny squirrel monkey of a child and the love she was showing me.

for a different kind of girl said...

You are a trooper for the whole camping thing, especially in light of that horrifying latrine situation. I need to promptly think of puppies and angels to put that well-painted image out of mind! In the end (oh, no pun intended!), it sounds like things went well. I'd be riding high for days following the praise Molly gave you if my kids shared something like that with me!

K A B L O O E Y said...

You did it and thrived! I'm glad you clarified about your own been-there, smelled worse toilet history, because I also think I'm a big toughie in that regard. So if you say it was bad, well, I trust you. Imagine what the Boy Scout latrines must be like...

kim jackson said...

just count me one of those strays.... :]

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Adorable - and what a great compliment from Molly. High accolades indeed.

I recently had one of my work days at the preschool co-op and was far more charmed by the the other three and four year olds than I expected to be. They were so cute, I wanted to take them all home with me (in spirit I mean - not really...)

dearheart said...

Cute post. Funny, these things can come off like bowling does for me. I don't ever want to go, but in the end I have fun.

I totally get that feeling you described about your own kids sucking all of the "but I'm totally good with kids" energy that your childless self had in abundance for kids of all kinds. Good for you for re-channeling it!

Michelle DeRusha said...

LOVE this story -- you are one rockin mom, especially give the latrine stench and all (boy that brought back a searing memory from my own girl scout camp experience many moons ago).

I can relate to your comment about other kids. I am NOT a kid person, my own aside of course (sometimes not so much them either). I admire you for stepping outside your comfort zone and getting to know (and enjoy!) other people's kids. Sounds like a great growing experience (and that statement sounds really dorky -- sorry).