This weekend, we’d planned on doing one last canoe trip. It would have been our sixth such trip this summer. To say that we were looking forward to it would be a gross understatement. We’ve loved these trips. Sure, they were hard work – lugging two small children and camping gear for four into backwoods lakes in a canoe – but they were an escape. They were islands of quiet in the vast, churningly busy weeks of the ocean that is – was – this crazy summer. They were our getaway, our holiday, our us time. And we’d gotten really, really good at them.
When we started out, on our first trip, a couple of months ago, we were still figuring things out. We packed too much food and not enough beverage, too much sunscreen and not enough bug repellent, too much bear spray and not enough chipmunk-be-gone. We struggled with solar chargers for our gadgets and failed to figure out how to use the GoPro. We did not yet understand that beef jerky was a food. But by our most recent trip, we had things down to a science. We sorted out the charger issue (trick: get a really good charger and charge it in advance) and figured out how to ward off chipmunks. We’d worked out the exact amount of food we needed and had figured out how to hack a portable, fully stocked bar (with ICE). We understood about beef jerky. We had it down. And this last trip? Was going to be a model of backcountry camping ninja efficiency.
But then I got sick, and Kyle got sick, and with too much stuff to do – little things, like sort out immigration and relocation and figuring out how we’re going to move our entire household to New York City in the next couple of weeks – and we just couldn’t do it. So this weekend, we’re staying in Nyquil and leasing forms and packing boxes, and just dreaming of the lake, and of how this would have the camping weekend to end all camping weekends.
So I thought that I would list the things that we would have done, which basically amounts to a list of the Very Important Learnings Of Camping For Comfort Addicts that we mastered this summer:
You know what’s an interesting experiment? Making a list of all the things your kids have destroyed or defaced. Although, really, you probably need to narrow it down to valuable things that your kids have destroyed, because if you included things like coffee mugs and white shirts and sofa cushions and lipsticks (to say nothing of white shirts and sofa cushions and lipsticks together), the list would become overwhelming. I’m going to further narrow down my list to technological devices that my children have destroyed, because if I kept it as broad as ‘valuable’ I’d have to go into things like furniture and Tiffany jewelry and the piano and some of the structural elements of our house, and at some point that just becomes discouraging.
So. Some technological devices that my children have destroyed or defaced or just dented up really badly:
We spent a lot of time, last week, talking about science. Which is maybe not what you would expect children to talk about during a week at Disney World, but there it is. Much of the initial discussion was provoked, of course, by Emilia’s very interesting hypothesis concerning the function and character of wishes in the Disney universe – a hypothesis that Tanner appreciated deeply, but that he felt raised further questions about wishes and about the nature of all things existing within that universe. Would all wishes come true at Disney World? A quick test – a declared wish to have ice cream for all meals – quickly confirmed that hypothesis false. And if that hypothesis was false, what did that mean for other Disney hypotheses?
Last week, Emilia went to school in a Snow White costume. She wore it with striped leggings and her hot pink skate shoes, the ones with the sparkly laces, and also a baseball cap. “I’m not really a princess, Mommy,” she informed me, “I’m just pretending to be one, because I like this dress.” Which summarizes her approach to fashion more or less perfectly: the determining factor, for Emilia, in selecting any article of clothing – shirt, pants, shoes, underpants – is simply “I just like it.” How things fit, whether or not they match, whether or not they are in season: these considerations are irrelevant. All that matters, to Emilia, is whether or not each individual item of clothing appeals to Emilia’s unique and ever-changing tastes, and whether the resulting outfit reflects to her, as she puts it, her “own self.”
This is Emilia, then, as her “own self” (Sporty Pretend Princess Edition):
We first faced this dilemma last year, cialis when we were considering moving Emilia into a more formal preschool, for sale and I wrote about my anxiety over the decision then. We decided against it for the time being, abortion but then the school called us just this past week to ask if we’d consider enrolling her for kindergarten. So here we are again, and again, I’m flummoxed.
To Montessori, or not to Montessori: that is the question. Among others.
Soon, Emilia will be old enough to attend the well-regarded Montessori school that is just around the corner from our home. Which means that she would leave the lovely preschool to which we have all become well-attached in the year or so that we have lived in this neighborhood, and move on to a more regimented, learning-focused environment, when she is just shy of four years old.
She’s been pretty happy in her preschool, which she attends three days a week. But she’s a little ways beyond the other children her own age in speech and movement and general activity, and so – with our permission – she was moved into a higher age group where she could move beyond the things that she’d already mastered and not run circles around the other children in the room. And so far, it’s been fine, but my heart does ache, just a little bit, when I see her in there with all the bigger children, her tiny self asserting her dominion in whatever corner she has staked out, defying anyone bigger to treat her as smaller, and I wonder, could we – should we – do better with this? Place her in an environment where she’s not necessarily the smallest or the youngest (or, conversely, where she is not, by whomever’s standards, the smartest or the fastest), but where activities are tailored more to her specific needs?