I am bone-tired after a Girl Scout trip to the waterpark Great Wolf Lodge and an extra day with my mom, brother, and niece in Virginia Beach. I got to see my niece for about a day. She’s almost two years old now and so cute. My brother brought her over to my mom’s house and then she spent the night with us there. Sure, she woke me up at 2:00 a.m. and then didn’t sleep past 7:00 a.m., but it was totally worth it.
The overnight trip to Great Wolf Lodge was a big success. Thirteen of my fifteen girls were able to go, plus three other adults to help with driving, food, and overall supervision. I was right in there with the girls on the different water slides, and grabbed a few of them over the day to join me on the scream-inducing Tornado slide.
It was on this Tornado ride that I got to really feel twelve years old again. And not in a good way, though it taught me something important. During our trip, I tried do something with all of the girls. For the most part, the girls were happy to have my company for these short intervals. But the morning we were going to leave, I caught two of the girls and asked if they’d go on the Tornado with me one last time. They agreed, one more reluctantly than the other, and off we went. We walked up the tall tower, waited our turn, and both of them started looking over the side of the staircase away from me. At first I thought that they were looking for some of our other girls, so I asked A. who they were looking for. She said that they were just looking and I said, “Oh.” She must have caught my hurt tone and started talking with me. The other girl, E. wouldn’t turn around. When we were past the staircase, she still would barely talk to me. When the ride was done I screamed like a little girl they both bolted; A. was somewhat friendly but E. didn’t acknowledge me at all.
I retreated to the hot tub feeling like I was twelve and had been shunned by the popular girl. True, I had an adult perspective on it, and this girl’s rudeness wasn’t going to affect my social standing in middle school, but I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being left out, dissed and dismissed.
I thought about how reading reminds me of being an insecure teen, but this incident put me right back in the feeling. Let me tell you, it was awful. But truly, how helpful to really understand what my daughter, this troop, all middle-school girls feel. It made me wonder how writers of Young Adult books can get down to that core and make it real.
I’ve also wondered what to do next. I want to talk to the girl, E. I want to talk to her mother. I want to talk to the whole troop about appropriate behavior. I also want to pretend that the whole thing didn’t happen. I did hug my daughter that night, and told her that I understand the plight of being a teen in a new way. I can hope that the experience will make me a better mother, a better troop leader, and maybe even a better writer.