Monday, April 30, 2012

Growing Up

Miss J is a Girl Scout and since September, she's been looking forward to the highlight of the year:  The Camp Out.  The entire troop was going and Miss J was so excited to try every camp offering and hang out with her friends.  Miss J could hardly wait to get home from school on Friday so she could pack for her big adventure.

We received an email from the troop leader the day before the trip:  A violent stomach bug had swept through the school and several of the girls in the troop were sick.  They would be staying in a cabin with no plumbing, so if our daughters did get sick while they were there, they'd be tossing cookies into a bedside bucket.  And lastly, the weather forecast was for cold and rain.  Activities like archery and rock climbing would be replaced with indoor cabin activities.

I read the email to Miss J and I watched the shadow of disappointment take over her face.  I reminded her of her busy week ahead:  Her tenth birthday, her grandparents coming to town to celebrate, her dance recital.  (And, what she does not know about, surprise tickets to see Cats.)  A bout with the stomach bug would erase those festivities.

Although I told Miss J the choice was hers, I secretly wished she would decide not to go.  I dangled a bit of bait in front of her and assured her that if she didn't go, we would fill our weekend with fun family activities.

She decided not to go. I have no doubt that she took my wishes into consideration when making her decision.

I began thinking of the fun things we could do together as a family.  I imagined bringing the camp experience out into our living room.  We could throw down our sleeping bags and light a fire.  We'd eat hot dogs and s'mores and play games.  She'd love it.

We spent the morning together as a family.  We visited our local police station's open house and, as promised to M,  headed to his favorite arcade.  We ate pizza and at Miss J's request, headed to her favorite bakery for a cupcake.  It was a beautiful day.


The afternoon came and I started to feel a bit "not right."  As the day wore on, "not right" turned into, "Yes-I-am-definitely-coming-down-with-something.."  Before long, I had set up camp in the bathroom.

The stomach bug hit and it hit hard. At one point I gave up trekking between my bedroom and the bathroom and just laid down in the bathroom.  I laid there, not caring that the floor needed to be swept, but simply grateful for how cool the bathroom tiles felt on my face.  At one point late in the evening, I had nearly convinced myself that this could not possibly be 'just a stomach bug' and that I must certainly be dying.    It was awful.

Any mother raising young children knows the cardinal rule:
A mother cannot get sick.  Ever.

Since having Miss J and M I have learned to trudge forward when I am feeling less-than-perfect.  You learn to make it through the day and still get it all done.  Mothers don't have time to be sick. There is too much to do.

But this bug had knocked me flat.  It had rendered me useless.  The To-Do list was whittled down to just two things:

1.  Lay on the bathroom floor.
2.  Try not to die.

Mr. A took total control of the house.  Miss J, without being asked, did too.  She stepped into my role.

She played with her brother and kept him quiet so I could rest.  She helped Mr. A with the vacuuming and dusting. She brought me crackers and hot tea sweetened with sugar.  She called to me through the closed bedroom door to ask if there was anything I needed.

Not once did she complain about missing her camp out.
Not once did she complain about not doing the fun family activities I had promised.
My girl just did what needed to be done at home and did it with grace and a great attitude.

She'll be ten in just a few days.  This weekend reminded me that, in so many ways, she is growing up.  And I could not be happier with the person she is growing up to be.

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