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My happy camper

8 Oct

Maura’s been at camp this week. Like, honest-to-goodness sleep-away camp. For three nights. With all the other sixth graders at her middle school.

It was weird.

Sixth Grade Camp is a big deal at the middle school. Miriam was put out that she got there in seventh grade and had missed out on camp. The idea is that you take all these kids who are new, take them to camp, and they bond well.

I read it and thought “Surely this is not something for Maura.” And maybe a bit “OMG how am I supposed to send my baby girl away from me? She can barely talk! Who’ll take care of her? Ack panic ack!” So I sort of ignored the camp paperwork sent home because honestly, how could it apply to us? Surely when they said everyone should go to camp, they didn’t mean my daughter.

And then I went to curriculum night, and the first thing one of Maura’s teachers said to me was “So is she going to camp?”

I did my best deer in headlights. “Uhhhhhhhhh…”

“She HAS to go to camp! She’ll love it!”

I blurted out the biggest concern I had. “But who will be with her?”

The teacher answered instantly, “I will be.”

I hesitated. “Well, I don’t know, Maura is outgoing, but she is also a homebody. She loves her people.”

“We’re her people too.” stated the teacher.

Damn if that wasn’t the exact right answer, and truthful as well. They were also part of Clan Maura.

The teacher had me talk to other parents from the program, who sent their student off to camp with a bit of reserve, and who then told me how great of an experience their student had. “She’ll have a great time.” they assured me.

“She has to go to camp. Everyone goes to camp.”

I’m not one to give into peer pressure…but the idea that Maura could, you know, go off with all the other sixth graders and do the big trip? It was intriguing. Josh was less hesitant than me. “They’ll take her? Really? Awesome! Let’s send her!”

Every so often, I come to this point with Maura where as much as I don’t want to allow something because of my own fears, I know I have to let her try the new thing. Because how else will she learn? I mean, I do use some discretion. She wanted to drive the car the other day and I flat-out refused. But camp was one of those things I had to let her do.

This was a test of my anxiety levels, to be honest. Anxiety means you have a lot of unwanted thoughts. Unwanted thoughts like “What if she gets lost in the woods after wandering off?” or “What if the ferry boat sinks on the way to the island they’re camping on?”

So my goal was to keep busy. I kept busy beforehand by buying all the things for camp. Flashlights, extra batteries, rain boots, whatever, I would buy it. The I got to label it all, and pack it all, and then chase down Maura who was going through it all to unpack and check out.

And then, Monday morning, we took her up to school early, with all the other sixth graders.

too excited about camp to pause for a picture

too excited about camp to pause for a picture

While we walked up to the meeting point to deposit gear, another girl saw her. “Hey, I like your pants.” she said to Maura. Who was wearing these cool new joggers, that were like dip dyed. “They’re from Target.” I said.

The girl perked up. “I love Target!”

“We do too!”

Then I saw another girl clutching a pillow pet, and smiled. Because I packed Maura’s pillow pet to be used as a pillow.

Suddenly, Maura was fitting in a bit.

We left Maura in her teacher’s very capable hands, and left. I went home to a very quiet house and decided not to just sit about. Instead, I went to Ikea. I went through every showroom, because I could. I bought the things. I was on no time schedule. There was no rush. Which is why I was able to buy all the things at Ikea. I spent the rest of the week doing things – deep cleaning the living room, building a new coffee table, shoveling out Maura’s room.

By the way, Maura’s a pack rat. An adorable pack rat, but a pack rat.

I kept busy. When an unwanted thought popped into my head, I told it to shut it.

Now the $10,000 question of the week has been “Are you enjoying your break?”

Well, considering I wasn’t at a spa, or in a hammock…I wouldn’t say enjoy. It was refreshing to be off schedule a bit, and be able to not have to be at home at a certain time for the bus. And it was fun to clean the living room and have it stay cleaned for two whole days.

But it was quiet.

I’m used to Maura’s background noses, her humming and singing, and her dolls reenacting a movie along the couches. In a weird way, I hoped I wouldn’t enjoy it too much, because what if life was easier without Maura underfoot?

Okay, it was easier, I won’t lie about that.

But today, I woke up excited, because I knew she’d be coming home. And that was the good feeling to have. I got to do all the stuff that I’ve put off while she was gone, and have that sense of accomplishment, but then I was also able to be excited for her to come home and see her newly designed room.

She had a great time at camp, according to all the staff (some whom I don’t know, but recognized Maura and were quick to tell me how much fun she had.) She spotted me and ran to me yelling “MOOOM!” as I braced for impact. And that was okay too, because off another bus came a different girl shouting “Mommy!” to her parent as she went for a hug. And another girl holding another pillow pet. And again, Maura wasn’t standing out as much as she blended in, being excited, trying to find her gear, babbling at me, wanting a hug.

We both survived our camp experience. And I got to see her blend in a little with her age group, which is a rare gift.

She came back all smiles, which is all I could ask for

She came back all smiles, which is all I could ask for


The In-betweener

29 Sep

Over the summer, Maura picked out a My Little Pony backpack. It was what she wanted, and knowing her penchant for giving a flying fart about what anyone else thinks, I let her get it.

But something has happened since she’s entered junior high.

The My Little Pony backpack keeps getting put aside for her older, still awesomely sparkly, but solid colored backpack.

Now, her sister Miriam went to this junior high, so I know the vibe of the school. It is this amazing awesome, quirky, sort of anything goes but bullying school. Even Miriam has said “I can’t believe how awesome that school is. Everyone loved going there!” Miriam also wore her sacred fox had every day for about two years, and brought Maura’s Stitch doll to school one day, and everyone was all “OMG, Stitch! I love Lilo and Stitch!”

This is Seattle-ish. Being odd is the norm.

So I don’t think this change of backpacks came about because Maura was taunted for having a “babyish” backpack. I think she just looked around, saw what others had, and decided she needed to step up her game.

I’m also noticing this with clothes as well. Oh, she’s still wearing her My Little Pony tees. I got them off Hot Topic and saw a college girl with the exact same tee on the other day. Her clothing choices are a bit more subtle. Less girly, more tween. Less frufru, more jeans and tops. Which is a trick because jeans aren’t normally her friends as she can’t manage the button.

And oddly enough – while it’s exciting to see her catch on to these things, and mature a little bit more…I’m having a few of the same feelings that I did when her siblings went through that phase of putting away childish things. But just a few. Because unlike her siblings, I had no clue if Maura would get to this point.

In the meantime, please send gift cards to Hot Topic. I think I’m gonna need them!


Yes, that’s an 11th Doctor dress. The girl has always had style.


Life lessons at Chipotle

14 Jul

So lately, Maura and I have been grabbing lunch at  Chipotle after summer school lets out – by that point of the day, we’re both really hungry.

It’s funny to think of how much Maura loves Chipotle.  We get burrito bowls.  She’ll eat the whole thing.  She’s a dainty princess like that.  But really, she’s in a body of a 12 year old about to grow some more girl.  Wanting to eat everything? That’s normal.

Now, since everyone else in the area also loves Chipotle for lunch, we encounter a huge line.  I spend our time in line giggling with her, reminding her not to bump into people, explaining “personal space”, reminding her to not cut ahead when the opportunity arises.  Okay, that sounds like she’s a sugared up monkey in line – she’s not.  She’s actually quite calm, and the reminders are just that – reminders.  One day, I started thinking about how much life skills are involved in waiting in line.  Patience, respect for others, turn taking – and she does so well every time.

I do think her favorite part is selecting what she wants.  Which is the same thing every time.  She does not want chicken.  She does want lettuce.  She definitely wants the mild salsa. We bypass the guac for her (hey, it costs extra!) And the staff is there being wonderfully patient with her, pointing to different options, checking with her what she wants before they glance at me for clarification.  They don’t rush us along even though there’s twenty people behind us in line.

I could order it all for her, but I won’t.  I let her have this chance to make choices.  In a way, Chipotle has become a safe, friendly environment in which to learn how to make choices and wait in line and other basic but very necessary life skills.  When she gets over-exuberant and yells “HI!” at all the staff with a big smile, they return the smile and the “hi!”.

There was one point, the second time we were doing this, as Maura got confused between lettuce and guac that I had a moment of “Oh God, we’re holding up the line!” – but that thought immediately turned to “Chill.  It’s not that big of a deal, we’re not taking up that much of their time, and patience is something everyone can learn.”  Because really, Maura learning this skill set benefits everyone.  And I’ve seen people be much bigger line hold ups there as well. It’s a lesson set for Maura, but it’s also a teaching moment for me – that it’s okay to let Maura do things at her pace in public.  To chill out about what others might be thinking.  To not be so hypersensitive myself.

Life lessons can happen anywhere, sometimes with a side of guac (which costs extra but is totally worth it!)

this is some serious business people!

this is some serious business people!


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