"Marry a Geek!"

We're back from camp. And grateful to be in the air-conditioning and not to have to go down the block to go to the bathroom.

But do you want to know a secret?

We had a GREAT time. Truly.

The place was beautiful --acres and acres of prime lake-front real estate. I took this picture of the sunset the first night and you can sort of see why it's such a great spot.
Here it is in the daylight. Look how peaceful.

The lake pretty much STAYED this peaceful the whole time we were there because it turns out that there were two deaths this past summer (on the lake) from a very rare form of meningitis called amoebic meningitis, which is carried by a bacteria that lives in some lake water. That was enough to scare everyone away from the lake. Even our campers weren't able to participate in the water sports, about which I had kind of mixed feelings. The chances of someone contracting that form of meningitis are very, very small --only 34 cases of the infection have been reported in Texas since 1972. But each of those cases was fatal. So, I'm not sure I was willing to take that risk, especially with kids who tend to drink a good deal of lake water in their usual swimming. Luckily, I didn't have to make that choice because the Girl Scouts made it for me.

Anyway, back to camp. We arrived and found our cabin, which looked like this:
Doesn't that look exactly like the prison cells in Cool Hand Luke? The cabins were better than they looked--they were surrounded on all sides by these screens, so it really was sort of like sleeping on a screened-in porch. And OUR cabin was up on stilts so it sort of swayed, which gave the effect of sleeping out on the screened-in porch in a hammock. It was pretty good, really. Well, it took a while for it to cool off but once it did, it actually got CHILLY at night, which was awesome because, dudes, it was so, so, so hot during the day.

The first night, we all met up at the place the camp calls The Acropolis for funny counselor antics and songs and a bonfire and then, s'mores. At one point, I had to turn to my cohort (the Girl Scout Troop Leader) and say, "Man, if we get any more excited, we'll be voted the Cabin Most Likely To Do Your Taxes."
But then the girls started getting into it

and I must say, we excelled at s'mores. I have no pictures of those because, well, I was busy trying to get in close enough to have one. No such luck. (Not that I'm still bitter or anything.)

Meanwhile, the Fair Jane was going out to dinner with her daddy.

First, I love that she got dressed up to go out to dinner with her dad. THEN, I love the hand gesture--can't you just see what she's going to look like on dates in the (please God, far, far, distant) future? My husband also took this wonderful video of her doing a tongue-twister and I would try to post it if my sanity wasn't hanging by a thread I hadn't sworn off trying to upload videos to this blog.

Back at camp, we ate the s'mores --well, some of us (not bitter, not me) --and then retired to our lovely chateau for the night.

And then the screaming started.

In the neighboring cabin were fifteen second and third graders and they were officially dubbed The Screamers by our group. They would NOT shut up. That's okay, because the second night, they were so tired, we heard like four screams and it was over. (After the toad chase, I mean. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

The next day came early and after breakfast (I'm not sure what this camp knows that camps didn't know when *I* was growing up but the food was really pretty good!) the first activity was go-cart riding. My daughter Ana, 9, opted not to do it. She wanted to but couldn't get over her fear. "Who, boy," I thought to myself, "Today is going to be a debacle." So we walked to the next activity (rock climbing) together and I said things like, "I'm sorry for you, Ana. Because I am afraid your fear will keep you from doing things you want to do and that will hold you back all of your life."

She dissolved into tears under the pretext of having been bitten by a fire ant and I thought, "What the hell am I doing? She's nine. It's CAMP--hello -- which is supposed to be about having fun. Not driving a go-cart is not a character flaw."

So, I took her shoe off and I massaged the imaginary bite away and I said, "Ana, I'm sorry." I took a deep breath. "I am so sorry to make you feel bad. I spoke out of turn and I was wrong to do that. Today is all about FUN. Go-carts are just the start of a lot of fun you're going to have today and you know what? If you decide not to do any of the other activities, I'm still going to be glad we came because I get to spend time with you. I am really proud of you. Sometimes I forget to tell you."

Her face lit up. Inside, I wanted to kill myself for being such a hard-ass over things that DON'T matter. The kid is probably going to cure cancer --is it really worth it to chastise her for not driving a go-cart around a tiny track? What is WRONG WITH ME?

You know, I wrote a column about why I don't believe in spanking one time and I was talking to my mother about it and she said, "I think words can wound much more than spanking." Of course, after I got over my feeling of, "Who are you and what have you done with my mother?" I knew she was right. So, why can't I be kinder to my kids? I love them more than my own life. You'd think I could manage to let them grow up with their self esteem intact.

And then, of course, Ana rose to every other challenge of the day.

Rock climbing with the zip line:

The high ropes course:


Arts and Crafts:

And the water slide

That night, our girls led the grace before dinner --which was this wonderful song that I now cannot get out of my head so if you read about me on the eleven o'clock news, you'll know that the song won. --

And then, after dinner, were the belles of the Girl Scout Camp Champions Luau/Carnival.

The we went back to our cabin and got ready to take our showers and The Screamers realized that some toads were attracted to the showers and the screaming reached such epic proportions that Ana couldn't even stay in the bathroom to take her shower. I, however, shared my shower with a nice toad who, honestly, was a lot less obnoxious than the screaming.

And that. Shower. Felt. So. Good.

The next day (today) was breakfast, loading up, stopping at Starbucks and coming home. Endless laundry while the pictures (228 of them!) downloaded.

And. Then.

After I had cleaned off of my memory card so that my camera would be set to go again, I discovered that I





I was so distraught that Ana looked at me and said, in her Old Soul way, "But Mama, we'll always have the pictures in our memories."

I was beside myself --seriously, I was probably certifiable --and my husband, who is a computer geek by profession, and a Knight in Shining Armor the rest of the time, managed to download some free software that would allow him to recover deleted files off of a flash card. I was so grateful, I almost cried.

"Marry a geek," I told the girls. "Marry a geek."

(This blog post is brought to you by Coop.)


Damsel said…
I'm so glad you had fun with Ana! You're an awesome mom!

My word verification is vwskiib. It's the new version of the bug. :-)
hokgardner said…
The thing is, in our family, I'm the geek.
Barb Matijevich said…
Well, then your husband got it right! Heh, heh!

Damsel, you wanna know how lame I am? I actually just clicked on the picture of the girls saying grace and remembered that not only did I iron the numbers of Ana's troop in the wrong order but I also ironed the entire sash backward. I'll probably be ex-communicated or whatever they do to bad girl scout volunteers.

It's a toss-up for me - geek or handyman? Hmmm.....

That Girl Scout adventure sounded like fun, and I still wouldn't go for a million bucks. Aren't I stupid? But I need my sleep.
Kerry said…
Thanks for the reminder about how powerful our words are. I wish I could remember this when the kids are awake!

I was too afraid to ride the zip line when I was 10. I tried for HOURS to get on with lots of support. I cried and cried and just COULD NOT do it. I still regret it to this day. I WANTED to do it but it brought up such fear in me I can't even tell you!

You are a great Mom for supporting your kid, building her up and not tearing her down. Kudos!

DK said…
YAAAAAYYY, Coop! Our hero!

And, dude, come on now. "I'm afraid your fear will keep you from doing things in life," is not exactly the same as "You worthless piece of crap, man, you never do anything and you're never going to do anything." Or even, "I can't believe you wouldn't ride in the go-carts. You're such a baby."

The latter two, would be bad. The prior, honey, not so much. Just, honest. And way to go with the "I'm proud of you" addition. Plus, you know, the fact that you were there at camp with her was already a big deal. Sometimes kids - even kids who will someday cure cancer - can use a good supportive push. As much as you don't want to let yourself believe it, you're a good mom.

Jane, though - ha!I LOVE the head scarf. Her daddy had the prettiest date in the whole place, I bet.
Suna Kendall said…
Yay, glad the pictures came back. And my favorite part was about the toad being better than the screamers. I think the #1 worst feature of young girls is that blood-curdling scream. The one the kid who lives behind me does if anyone even looks at her sideways.

And, it would be nice if we were all such perfect parents that we always said the right thing, even when hot, tired and exasperated. But, all parents are less than perfect. The resulting quirks in our children are what make them unique and interesting. Or that is what I tell myself, and no doubt what my imperfect parents tell themselves.
Ei said…
I love you Barb. I love that you had the presence of mind to apologize to Ana, and that you love that Jane dressed up for her date with Daddy, and that you married a geek and are happy for it.

I also love that you were tired enough to suggest that any of us will be reading the 11 o'clock news. That made me snort. Because I also am precisely that tired.
Mrs.Q said…
Thank goodness for those knights in shining armour...

Sounds like camp was a lot more fun than I remember from when I was a Girl Guide!
Soozcat said…
You are SO right. Geeks make superlative husbands. They seem to hit their stride in college. They tend to make very good money. And they just get cuter as they age, IMO.