I spend a lot of time eavesdropping on the conversations of the other parents in my kids’ classes. I try to participate when I have something pertinent to add, but the conversations are often about things I don’t have much to say about:
- PTA meetings
All three topics about which I quickly find myself in over my head. So I mostly listen, and nod at what seems like appropriate intervals.
This week, the topic was Spring Break. Some parents are working, and the kids will go to day camp. Others have trips planned like Legoland and Sea World, happy little family bonding experiences. I, on the other hand, am abandoning the family to their own devices to venture into the bloodthirsty clutches of one of the most wild areas of the world in order to do surgery in the company of fire ants and watch people selling barbecued tree maggots on a floating open air market. The other parents have shunned me.
I live in fear of getting eaten on the trip, not only because I don’t wish to be messily devoured, but because I worry about my kids needing to explain that for the rest of their lives: My mom took off on our spring break and got eaten by a crocodile….What? Legoland? I know, I don’t get it either. Despite the fact that 99% of my life is spent (willingly) in servitude to the family, that one percent I retain for myself keeps needling me with a persistent and irritating sense of guilt.
The kids packed their bags for Grandma’s house 3 days ago. To say they are devastated over my departure would be a bit of a major falsehood. I explained to my daughter today about tarantulas, and she agrees that she is probably not ready to accompany me on this sort of expedition. “Maybe next time, Mom,” she cheerily agreed as she packed her snorkel and tarantula-free suitcase.
I hope that I come back. Wait, the sentence wasn’t supposed to end there. I hope that I come back with some amazing stories to tell that open my kids’ eyes to the huge myriad beautiful world out there beyond the safe and comfortable confines of our suburb. I hope they will be able to understand that we are so fortunate to have the life that we do, when so many others do not.
I hope they learn that it’s a good thing to push those boundaries, to venture out and to explore. That it’s OK to be scared of things that are unknown, big, and poisonous, but you should go look at them anyway. Most of the time they aren’t as bad as you think, and those things that are worse only make you appreciate what you have all that much more.
I look at my kids, both of them but especially my daughter, and I hope she remembers this: When she was 7, her mom left them all for a couple of weeks to go all by herself to the Amazon to help some animals, because she could. And I hope she thinks in time that that was pretty cool.
On a trip my husband and I took to Costa Rica years ago, we spent hours watching the different animals playing in the treetops. In one, a sloth rested comfortably. Sloths can spend their entire lives in one tree, venturing down only rarely to use the bathroom. They seemed plenty happy, although I’ll admit in three hours all I saw them do was wiggle one toe.
In another, a pair of capuchins vaulted from one branch to another at breakneck speed. They stole a sandwich from a guy on the beach, then threw nuts at him when he gave chase. They came over and cocked their necks at me, before tearing off in search of more mischief and mayhem.
Guess who had more fun.