Just past the lost-child ID station, where Anjali the 8-year-old huffed indignantly at my suggestion that she could use an ID tag, past the fire-belching, scrap-metal Octobot, Myth Busters’ host Adam Savage stood on a rickety platform, with hundreds of fans adoring him.
“What’s the best thing you’ve ever made out of duct tape,” asked a young girl. A raft, he said. They went down some rapids in that raft, and he flew through the air at one point, completely confused about when he was supposed to put his legs straight out, when to fold them.
“Where did you go to college,” someone asked. “I pretended to go to NYU for 6 months.”
“What was your most memorable creation?” When he was 9 years old, he cut up some refrigerator boxes and put them in his mom’s closet, pretending he had created a space shuttle. He outfitted his shuttle with desks and sat in it for months.
Maya was about to turn 13, and for her pre-party, had launched a campaign to upgrade to a smart phone – an iphone 5C, to be exact. She had taped posters with the oh-so-subtle “iPhone 5C” in 124 point font on our bathroom mirrors, on the bedroom walls, on the stove backsplash, in our underwear drawers. Until now, she had a phone that allowed her to write texts, but it delivered them only when it was in the mood. It could take pictures, but refused to send them (yes, even with a data plan). Sometimes it just took a day off from work. It wasn’t all bad though – the thing was built like a brick, and the battery lasted forever.
School’s out, the kids are at a sleep-away camp,* and I should be celebrating. Parents I know use the freedom to revel in tidier homes. They travel, they watch adult movies, maybe even finish their sentences. What do I do? I worry.
Maybe there are legions of closet worriers out there. Maybe we all are, to some degree, just pretending to be carefree, easygoing, and happy to be rid of our kids for a while. Maybe my preoccupations aren’t all that original at all. Or are they?
When a friend proposed a Girl Scout nature camp near Tahoe to me, I considered for a bit, assuming that this too shall pass. What was she talking about? We don’t pack our kids off to the woods on their own for a week! I know, I know, “a week is nothing,” you are thinking. You know people whose kids go off for the entire summer! Well, I know people whose kids go to boarding school for years. But we haven’t really had a primer for this.
Neither Srini nor I went to camp. The only “camping” we know is what I did with my parents – and my chachas and mamas and cousins. It was like an Indian wedding, only in the woods. While the neighboring campers roasted hot dogs on sticks, we feasted on chole, naan, and yogurt. We sang Hindi songs around the campfire and and told jokes in our broken Punjabi. Mummy packed our white linens to sleep on, and meticulously scrubbed everything when we got home.
Maya had a really bad day today – the leprechauns didn’t visit her class, and to make matters even worse, she didn’t spot any, unlike her superlucky friends Donya and whatshername. (Apparently they’re about 4 to 6 inches tall). Aanika’s class had a visit – “they turned over Mrs. Rosa’s chair” and made all sorts of other mischief. She didn’t get to see a little green gnome either, but at least their visit confirmed their love for her. Continue reading →