Summer Camp

Last week, Spouse and I took a leap of faith and sent Trixie off to camp.

For three weeks, one of which is spent doing a canoe trip that involves setting up tents, portaging and crossing the U.S. border into Canada.

She’s eight years old.

One more thing about that canoe trip: the guides purposefully steer the girls into headwinds and cheer when it rains under the premise that adversity builds character.

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I already love this camp.

“This American Life” recently replayed a 1998 episode (it’s held up remarkably well) entitled “Notes on Camp,”which explains the rituals, memories and strong emotions of kids who’ve grown up attending the same camp every summer. I highly recommend a listen; it would make almost anyone yearn for a type of childhood that most of us don’t get to experience.

The thing I love most about Trixie’s camp is that it’s an all female environment, from the campers to the counselors to the cooks to the camp director. The emphasis is on building strength, confidence and character, something I am 100% behind and I think is best accomplished in this exact setting.

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Trixie is already strong and confident, but the world can be tough on girls and even the strongest wings will have to fly through some storms.

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My friend M’s daughter is also attending this session. This is her second year at camp (she’s older than Trixie) and M. described last year’s experience as transformative for her daughter. I am hoping for the same.

My biggest wish: Trixie attends every summer and ultimately builds memories, friendships and qualities that last a lifetime.

I have so many dreams and hopes for This Girl.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2014

Happy Mom’s Day!

I often joke and call myself the Mother of the Year, always in a tongue-in-cheek way, particularly since I am typically reminded by my children on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis that I am, in fact, The Worst Mother in the World.

Sample conversation from last week:

(Scene: Chaotic morning that began nearly two hours earlier at Fancy Pants Ranch, two children with unbrushed hair and teeth, half-dressed Adult Female, and T Minus 25 minutes before Said Adult Female is due in the OR in full surgical attire to begin the day).

Me (already sweaty): Kids! Come on! We have to get going, NOW!

Trixie (5, who has been lounging on the floor for over 20 precious minutes): I can’t walk.

Me: Yes, you can. I know for a fact that you can walk.

Trixie: I’m glued to the floor.

Me (pulling her up): There. Now you’re free. Brush your teeth.

Trixie: (Collapses back to floor)

Me: Get up! We are already so late. Let’s go.

Trixie: I’m stuck. And I hate these socks. They’re too small. Get me new ones and put them on my feet.

Me: PUT ON YOUR SOCKS, GET GOING, AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH NOW! (This repeats a few times. FYI, the socks are fine and she is more than capable of putting them on)

Trixie: You’re hurting my feelings.

Trixie: You’re shouting at me.

Trixie: That means you don’t love me.

Trixie: You’re kicking me out of the family.

Trixie: Now I don’t have a family.

Trixie: Now I don’t have a place to live.

Trixie: That means you hate me.

Trixie: YOU’RE THE WORST MOM EVER!

Trixie: (Copious alligator tears and fake wailing, interrupted by fits of laughter when her brother farted a minute later, then caterwauling resumed).

Ahhh, there you have it. Proof that I am, indeed, the Worst Mom Ever.

She has certainly inherited the Drama Gene, which I think has skipped a generation as I am not similarly afflicted.

I’ve joked about it in the past, but usually for Mother’s Day, I ask for what I really want: to be left alone.

The title of this book summarizes my sentiments well:

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This 2009 movie looks pretty terrible (It cost an estimated $5 Million to make and grossed less than $100k, including an opening weekend in the UK where less than a dozen tickets were sold. Uma Thurman, where did you go so wrong?), but there is a quote from the movie that I stumbled upon while researching this post that seemed relevant.

First, the movie:

 

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Now the quote, taken from an essay on motherhood written by the main character:

 Motherhood is about accepting the limitations of time and energy which stretch beyond you, even though sometimes it feels they can consume you. Search for and hold on to your own true self. If you lose that, what kind of mother can you be? Things are always changing no matter how much we might want things to stay the same. You could take a picture of your kids every single day and every single day they’d just be getting older. That’s a fact, a heartbreaking fact, but still a fact.

So, seize your days and dwell in them fully. Look to your children because they know how to inhabit brief periods of time with extreme passion. And for nothing more, really, than the sake of those moments. They can help you remember that, if you only slow down and let them. Feel fortunate because chances are good you actually might be.

My Mother’s Day wish for myself to is remember this. Always.

P.S. And then there’s this:

 

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Lunchbox

Trixie’s lunchbox felt unusually heavy when I took it out of her backpack on Friday night.

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I’d dutifully packed a cheese sandwich, apple and a Gogurt (a questionable take on yogurt) that morning.

But the nighttime weight far exceeded the tally of the above.

What could be in there?

In retrospect, the answer should have been obvious.

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Glittery sneaks and a My Little Pony. Plus a plastic Easter egg. Duh. 

Venn Diagrams

MGM (6) had to make a Venn diagram about the work that firefighters and police officers do.

I’m not quite sure what to think of the results.

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What firefighters do:

  • They put out fires
  • Go in fires
  • Go crazy with hoses

What police officers do:

  • Catch robbers
  • Arrest people

Apparently, there is also no intersecting of duties. No helping people. No wearing uniforms. No riding in vehicles with sirens. No performance of heroic actions.

Hence, the 8/10 for the grade. We also seem to need to spend more time discussing public service careers and less time playing Angry Birds.

Big sigh.

 

 

Ban Bossy

You would’ve had to have been living in a cave for the past year to not have heard about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book, “Lean In.”

I read the book and am aware of its criticisms, but overall, I think there was solid stuff within.

Frankly, I’m not sure I could lean in more to my own career. I’m already leaning so deeply that I feel like Michael Jackson in his “Smooth Criminal” video.

A new angle on the Lean In movement just caught my attention, because this time it’s aimed at girls.

Ban Bossy is a campaign to get girls to empower and assert themselves. Here’s a quote from the Ban Bossy website:

When it comes to girls and ambition, the pattern is clear: girls are discouraged from leading. When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy”—a precursor to words like “aggressive,” “angry,” and “too ambitious” that plague strong female leaders. Calling girls bossy is one of many things we do to discourage them from leading. It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys, a trend that continues into adulthood.

This section of the website has some particularly good tips for parents. The comments surrounding displays of too much confidence that can lead to ostracization, pleasing others at personal expense and avoiding conflict to maintain popularity made me smile. Are these situations limited to childhood? I think not.

You know what?

I’m ok with being bossy. And I want my daughter to be, too.

One More Thing, #19

Yesterday I posted a picture of an inspirational t shirt I bought from Fellow Flowers.

Yet I neglected to mention this: They also had shirts in kid sizes.

To be more specific, girl sizes.

I bought this for Trixie:

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I usually don’t get too worked up with stuff like this (Hear me roar!), but something happened over the weekend that really brought this message home.

I had just finished running nearly 20 miles of races over two days and headed back to my hotel for a much-needed shower and an obligatory nap.

When I got there, I discovered that the resort was also hosting a “modeling competition.”

There were hundreds of coltish, teenaged (Pre-teen? I can’t even tell anymore) waifs tottering about in shoes that they had no business wearing.

And I felt sad.

The dichotomy of going from one event that was so empowering to one that seemed to be the polar opposite was hard to handle.

I’m going to make Trixie wear this shirt until it’s in tatters.

Back to Square One

So, we’re back to where we started: We really need to solve this nanny situation.

(Here’s the backstory).

After at least four failed attempts, the agency finally sent us a reasonable nanny.

Or so we thought.

The cracks appeared about six weeks after she started. She was taking the kids out for fast food almost every day after school. A few times we came home and she was busily texting on her phone. MGM wasn’t doing his homework. Her car broke down and she canceled at the last minute. Little things. Tiny little things.

One night we asked her to stay late. I arrived home at nearly 8 PM. The kids were wild. And hungry. It hadn’t occurred to her to feed them dinner.

Our DVR queue is also completely full of episodes of “The Bachelor,” and by no stretch of the imagination can I even accuse Ever Patient Spouse of secretly being a fan. It’s her.

I blamed myself for trying to appear too laissez-faire during the interview process. (“Oh, yeah. We’re not like those uptight helicopter parents. The kids can do, you know, whatever. Just make sure they’re not dead.”)

Then this: Last week, frantic calls from the school indicated that she simply hadn’t shown up to collect the children. Spouse and I had no idea where they were. I finally reached Nanny and she simply said that she had been taking a nap in the middle of the day and just didn’t wake up. 

If the situation had been reversed, I would have been profusely apologetic and appropriately mortified. She wasn’t at all. There wasn’t even an “I’m sorry.”

The school principal informed us that this isn’t new. She’s frequently late. The principal has taken to watching MGM and Trixie by the front door to make sure she shows up.

Tonight: Spouse came home and the house was quiet. Investigation determined that the kids were upstairs watching Netflix shows on an iPad.

But where was Nanny?

Further investigation revealed that she was soundly asleep on our sofa, stretched out from end-to-end, snuggling in a cashmere blanket with numerous decorative pillows.

It took Spouse shouting her name four times before she roused. Again, no apology. No “Mea culpa.” Zilch.

Spouse told her to go.

A terse email to the agency confirmed that she will not be welcome on Monday.

So now we’re back at square one. Sigh.