This week, my 14-yr-old daughter and the rest of the eighth graders from her school are going on a trip for two nights. They go to a conference center a few hours away.
In fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, they visited camps. Well, most of them did. In fifth grade, my daughter went with them to a camp, but I think it was one night. It wasn’t her favorite night, and frankly, it wasn’t mine either. I was one of the overnight chaperones, along with my friend, Leah.
The kids weren’t allowed to take snacks, which can make for unhappy little girls. I will admit it: I took a few “not messy” snacks for them. I knew those girls weren’t going to eat the dinner they were served. Shhhh!
The cabin was fine. It was a cabin. The bathroom was even fine. The mattresses, however, were those thin mattresses covered in plastic. They make noise every time someone rolls over.
I woke up every single time someone rolled over that night. I could hear them every time. And every time, I thought someone was falling out of a bunk. So not only did I wake up, I woke up in a panic, thinking I needed to buffer someone’s fall. It made for a terrible night’s sleep. I was happy to leave the next morning before they started activities, and my daughter wanted to leave with me. I told her she had to stay for the day.
In sixth grade, they went to another camp for two nights. Of course, the night before, my daughter fell at soccer practice and injured her thumb. My husband brought her home around 9pm. Urgent Care was closed, and I needed to get her to a doctor before the field trip the next day, so we went to the emergency room. She got x-rays, but a radiologist wouldn’t see the x-ray till the next day. (The X-ray below is not her hand.)
I did a stupid thing. I sent her on the trip with the thumb in the splint from the ER. While she was gone, I got the call from radiology that it was not broken, but I should have kept her home. She was miserable the whole time. I shouldn’t have made her go. I will always feel guilty about that.
When the seventh grade trip came around, she had a horrible looking spot on her knee. I took her to the doctor the day before the trip and found out it was a staph infection for which she needed to be taking antibiotics. This time, I made the right decision: I kept her home.
Now, it’s time for the eighth grade trip, and this is supposed to be the fun one. They can take snacks. They can take their phones. They can take stuff. They aren’t required to stay with their advisory group. Fingers crossed she stays healthy enough to go, because she is actually looking forward to it.
A friend said yesterday that she is going to miss her daughter while they’re gone. While I always enjoy time with my daughter, I am going to welcome the opportunity to be lazy. No school pickup. No practice pickup. No driving all over town.
It is good for my daughter to have to fend for herself sometimes. This trip is a taste of that. Yes, she will be with friends and teachers, but they will be staying on their own. It’s good for them.
This summer, my daughter is going on a two-week trip to Iceland with a group of teenagers. I’m excited for her, and I’m a little jealous at the same time. Iceland looks beautiful in photos. My friends who have been there tell me it’s incredible and unlike anywhere else they’ve ever been. She will have the time of her life, I’m sure. She will be making memories that will last a lifetime.
I was the same age when I went on my first big trip out of the country with other teenagers. She will be 3 1/2 months shy of her 15th birthday, and that’s almost exactly how old I was when we flew to Mexico City, then traveled on to Cuernavaca, Taxco, and Acapulco…back when you could go to Acapulco. I know we returned on March 6, 1982, the day after John Belushi died. Everyone was talking about it on the flight home.
That trip was an incredible learning experience for me and for my friends. I’m sure we came back with a mutual respect for each other and a respect for other cultures. We were exposed to more than we would have been exposed to as regular tourists. We learned a lot. We even learned how to haggle with vendors in the market in Mexico City…our first experience with that. That’s where we bought the sombreros pictured below. That haggling experience came in handy last summer when my friend, Jennifer, was purchasing something from a street vendor in Puerto Rico. He told her a price, and she was ready to pay when I stopped her and “haggled” with the vendor as best I could in Spanish. I’m sure he spoke English, but it was fun to try my hand at Spanish.
In addition to learning about each other and a different culture, we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned how to handle homesickness…cry it out, and then the tears turn into laughter. We learned about sharing a bathroom and mirror space with four other teenage girls. And we looked out for each other. I was actually physically ill for a good part of the trip…Montezuma’s Revenge and a terrible upper respiratory illness…coughing the whole time. My friends helped me. Among other things, they supplied the Pepto Bismol I had for breakfast the day I woke up with Montezuma’s Revenge.
The pictures below are also from our Mexico trip in 1982. The one on the left is our waiter at a pizza parlor in Acapulco. Note he is posing next to the beer menu…there was no drinking age in Mexico in 1982. We might have taken advantage of that. The photo on the right is the cute waiter at our hotel in Mexico City, Manuel. I thought he was adorable.
The coughing was terrible and constant. The Montezuma’s Revenge was short-lived, thank goodness. But the memories are forever.
Anytime teens are away from their parents for more than a few hours, they learn something. Hopefully, while she is on her school trip this week, mine will learn something about keeping her own belongings separate from everyone else’s. This summer, in Iceland, I hope she learns something about getting those belongings together and being ready to move on at a moment’s notice. I hope she learns more about how strong she is…mentally and physically.
This week, while she is gone, I hope I take some time to be selfish…just for Wednesday. Just one day of total selfishness…doing what I want when I want. Thursday morning, I will be excited to host some friends at my home, and that afternoon, my “baby” will come home.
While I’m looking forward to a couple days to myself, I’m already looking forward to her return, and I hope to hear all about the fun school trip.
I guess I need to make a Target run to get some snacks for her to take!
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