Leaving the Group

Leaving the group.

Remember when you were a teenager? I do. I remember my parents telling me that if I attended a gathering where things started to get “out of hand” or “go awry” or if I were uncomfortable, to leave. Get myself out of the situation. At different stages of life, that could mean different things. As a teenager, maybe people were getting too rowdy. Or maybe I had the choice of whether or not to get into a car with someone I didn’t really trust. In college, maybe there were drugs present that I didn’t need to around. Maybe there was a mob mentality about something, and people were about to do something they wouldn’t have done if they were alone.

Recently, I found myself in a virtual group that started to scare me. By “virtual,” I mean it was the Facebook page for a group I joined long ago. According to the Facebook page of this group I remember as always quite civilized and respectful, the goal of the page is stated to be “to build a network of [members]…to share resources and opportunities.” It states clearly in the group rules that there is to be no hate speech or bullying. “Communicate with courtesy and respect,” it says.

Imagine my surprise when communication on this same page recently turned quite ugly and disrespectful. People are calling each other names. People are addressing members in ways I wouldn’t address anyone. People are using profanity left and right as a means of conveying their viewpoints, instead of using respectful speech.

Don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I don’t care about profanity, but I don’t like when it is hurled at someone…especially in a setting where we should be treating each other with respect. Imagine hurling obscenities at your coworkers in a professional setting. Or imagine your children hurling them at their teachers in the classroom setting. I don’t know about you, but the school wouldn’t even have to punish my child; she would be in big enough trouble at home.

I’ve seen kids on sports fields and sports courts in recent years sassing referees and gesturing after what they believe is a bad call, and every time, I think, “Holy smokes. My daddy would have walked out there and snatched me off that field.” I’ve been watching when my daughter was playing high school sports, and when a girl behaves poorly or with poor sportsmanship on the field, I’ve thought, “My daughter’s coach surely knows that I would take her home right now if she acted that way on the field.”

That brings me back to my group. Apparently, a lot of people don’t feel the same way. They think respecting others is no longer important. They think it’s OK to get out there and say whatever you want and say it however you want to whomever you want, without regard for others. They think it’s OK to use profanity in every sentence when they are trying to make a point. In this particular group, someone actually typed out these words to another member recently: Sit the hell down. 

And that’s when I knew I needed to leave the group. That was that moment my parents had warned me about. When things start to go awry or you are uncomfortable, leave. So I left the Facebook page of a group I’ve been a member of most of my life. It broke my heart, because I really wanted to try to make a difference. I’m really good at listening to other people’s viewpoints. I know everyone doesn’t feel the same way about everything…and I think that’s OK. That’s what makes the world go around. But I will not tolerate disrespectful behavior. I do not want to be a part of a group that communicates that way.

If it had been a one off situation, I could have gotten past it. But it wasn’t. People were accusing each other of horrible things. Worst of all, no one was hearing anyone else. And as soon as I saw “sit the hell down,” I was done. I left the Facebook page of a group I’ve loved for years…a group I have dedicated time and financial resources to…a group that, for me, was always a soft place to land, a place I made lifelong friends. I had to leave the Facebook page. I hope the behavior of those people is not indicative of the members of the group as a whole. Is civility dead?!?!

I keep getting messages from friends who are still in the group. I’ve received six or eight from people who have left it too, but I’m getting messages showing me screenshots of some of the posts, and I’m brokenhearted. I’m disappointed. I don’t want to be a part of a group that behaves that way.

So I left the Facebook group. I had to. My parents would be proud that I chose not to participate in the insanity, because that’s what it looked like to me. It looked like a bunch of spoiled, entitled, participation-trophy kids who think they’re the smartest things on the planet, and they’re probably 25 years old. They think their education makes them knowledgeable about life, I guess. At 53, I know that’s not true. They know very little, but they’re not even smart enough to realize that yet. When they’re 53, hopefully, they will look back and realize just how incredibly rude they were.

I’m out.

 

 

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I Just Sent My Daughter To Iceland

My 14-yr-old daughter just got on a flight to go to Iceland with a teen travel group. We have been looking forward to this for months. I say “we,” because I am so excited for her. Really, I wish I could go, but her group is just for teens. Plus, they will be staying in tents and hostels…no thanks. I’m too old for that. I want to go and stay in hotels, but my adventure will have to wait. This is her turn.

This trip came about because she wanted to travel to Costa Rica and Belize. The same company offers a trip to those countries for students her age, but space is limited. As it turns out, I signed her up a day too late. They called me and said the Costa Rica/Belize trip was full and offered trips to Colorado, Utah, Oregon…no offense to those lovely states…and they ARE lovely…but I knew she didn’t want to go back to school in the fall and tell her friends who had been to Costa Rica that she went to Oregon.

When they called, she was in school, so I needed to make a decision for her. While I was talking with the representative, I had my laptop open. I started scrolling through the trips they offer, and I said, “What about Iceland?” I had never spoken with my daughter about Iceland before, but it looked pretty, and the trip description sounded great too. I think the rep was surprised, because Iceland and Costa Rica are two very different destinations. She said there was space available on the Iceland trip, and she also told me it was an awesome trip.

That afternoon, my daughter went home after school with a friend. She called me and asked, “Well, am I on the Costa Rica/Belize trip?” I told her, “No, I’m sorry, but you’re on a better trip. I signed you up for the Iceland trip.”

Oh, you’d have thought I was telling her she was going to be locked in the basement for the summer. The crying…the anger…the disappointment!  After we hung up, I started sending her texts with pictures and videos I found online of Iceland. In a little while, she called me back, saying, “Iceland looks awesome!” I didn’t say, “I told you so.” But, well…I told her so.

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All this happened way back in September. Since then, we’ve watched every video, read every article, and looked at any pictures we could find of Iceland. I have friends who have traveled there in the past year and posted photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, and every time I see one, I call my daughter into the room, and we check them out together.

It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime, no doubt. She will see all the beauty Iceland has to offer, which is plentiful. I’ve been checking the recent temperatures there, and they appear to be hovering between 42 and 51…a little colder than it usually is this time of year. Interestingly, she’ll also get to experience midnight sun. They’ll have full sunlight for 21 hours of the day and only three hours of civil twilight, which is much like dawn or dusk. I’ve told her she’ll need to take a sleep mask…especially for those nights they’re sleeping in tents.

Months after I signed her up for Iceland, we received a call from the tour company telling me some space had opened up on a Costa Rica trip, and they asked if she might like to do that instead. It was during school hours, so I couldn’t talk with her. I told them I’d talk with her about it, but I doubted she’d want to switch, because she was pretty psyched up about Iceland. And I was right. When she got into the car that afternoon, I asked her, and her immediate response was, “No way!”

Score one for Mom!

As we purchased and gathered all her gear…and it’s a lot of gear…we packed it into her carry-on duffel bag. Fortunately, the tour company told us exactly what she would need. There was no guesswork…just get what they said. She got some of the gear for Christmas, and then we purchased more as we got closer to time for the trip. And we got more and more excited.

Earlier this week, we hopped on a flight from Charlotte to New York, so we could spend a little time in the city before she went to Iceland. A friend from Charlotte and her daughter, who is also going to Iceland, joined us, and we had some fun in the city. The girls enjoyed our dinner their last night in NY at Sugar Factory. The food was basic bar food, but the drinks and desserts were great fun! It’s a fun experience, so if you find yourself in New York, we recommend a stop at Sugar Factory. See the website here.

So, my friend and I dropped off our daughters at JFK Airport today and put them on the flight to Iceland. It was fun to see the excitement on their faces. I did the “drop and run” tactic at the gate from which the flight was leaving. I didn’t want to linger, because I know that is more difficult for us. It’s easier for us to just say our goodbyes and part. My friend and her daughter sat down and had a talk for a little while. Different people do different things, but I could tell mine wanted me to vamoose, and I get it. After I left them at the gate, I walked to an eatery way down the concourse, sat down, and had a couple of glasses of Prosecco, partly to celebrate the fun they’re going to have and partly because I just needed a glass of Prosecco. My friend joined me in a little while, and then we, the moms, returned on a flight to Charlotte without them, still talking about how excited we are about our girls’ upcoming experience.

They’ll go rafting in cold water, kayaking through fjords, see wild horses, see puffins, climb waterfalls, go ice climbing, hike a glacier, see lots of geysers, and they’ll visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa…and more.

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While I can hardly wait for her to experience Iceland, I’ll be even more excited about her return. She will have done lots of things I’ve never done, and she will have lots of stories to tell. In fact, I feel pretty sure she will learn a lot and even change some while she’s gone. She’ll learn about a different culture and landscape, and she’ll learn a lot about herself. After all, this is a teenager who has never slept outside. She’ll be sleeping in hostels and tents, a whole new world.

As we enjoyed our last night in New York, I asked if her she was nervous, and she said, “No, I’m just mad that I’m not already there.” I guess I’m the only one who’s nervous. Well, my husband’s nervous too.

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While she’s gone, we will go on a little vacation of our own, and she won’t think about us one bit. I know my husband and I will turn to each other every day and ask, “What do you think she’s doing now?” If I’m nervous about this two week adventure to Iceland, I can only imagine how nervous I’ll be when she goes off to college. My friend, Linda, whose son is halfway through his college career, told me at lunch last week to get ready…time flies, and our daughter will be going off to college before we know it.

Bon Voyage!

***If your family or child is embarking on an outdoor adventure, here are some ideas on things to purchase and where to get them:

GoPro Hero5 Camera…we needed it in a hurry, so I purchased it online at Target and selected “store pickup.” A few hours later, my item was at the guest services desk of my favorite Target.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag…we purchased the 60 liter bag, and it holds way more than I thought it would. Plus, it’s waterproof. We purchased this directly through the tour company, but you can find them at REI for $129.00 in store or online here.

For most other items, we shopped at Jesse Brown’s in Sharon Corners in Charlotte and REI at Carolina Place Mall, and I highly recommend both laces. 

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