A nice day out

On Saturday, E and I went to a couple of local conservation areas that we’d never visited before, to relax and take some photos. At the first stop, the path led through some fields.
And then the path led down to a river, where a flock of geese were moseying just as lesiurely as we were.
Sometimes even the geese weren’t sure which way they wanted to go.
As we drove to our second destination, we passed a farm pond and a herd of cows, hanging out just as leisurely as the geese.
Some of the cows took advantage of the water to wade in and cool off.
Or get a drink.
Our second destination was buggy and swampy and not terribly exciting, though the lilypad was kind of nice.
We then actually headed to a third conservation area, which we’d previously visited, because it has a tiny orchard where you’re allowed to pick the fruit. No pictures of that. I was too busy eating a couple of tiny, very tart plums.

Here’s the prayer I shared at church today during Joys and Concerns time:

“I want to lift up a joy.  And yes, M, I’m going to embarrass you.  M just finished his first official summer job, as a counselor at a day camp. There were several kids at camp who, for various reasons, came with really challenging behavior. And they all ended up in M’s group at various times. But no matter what these kids did — and there was at least one day when they hit him with sticks and underwear* — I never once heard M describe them as bad kids, or sound mad about them, or say he wished they were at some other camp. Instead, he always described them as fundamentally good kids, who had reasons for acting the way they did, and he did the best he could to manage their behavior so they could participate in camp. And it was always clear how much he genuinely cared about them.

As a parent, I’m impressed with how maturely and competently he handled them. Spiritually, I can’t help but wonder how much of M’s approach may have been shaped by growing up in a church like ours, where people of all different abilities are welcomed and accepted as just people.**

So I lift up the joy of a teenager whose summer work has been a testament to his beliefs and to loving your neighbor. And for the kids who probably spend much of their lives labelled as ‘the bad kids,” I pray that M has made a difference in their lives, by giving them part of a summer where they could be one of ‘the good kids.'”


* Yes, I really said “underwear” during prayer time. Nobody flinched or giggled.
** Our church has a program that actively includes adults with developmental delays, both in our regular Sunday worship, and in Sunday afternoon services focused to meet their needs. Many of them live in two group homes near the church, which is how the program originally started.


I ran across the above article about how often different things need to be washed – go on, give it a read it before clicking
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I asked M how his day at work went today, and he said, “I accidentally threw out a kid’s underwear.”

You know there’s a story behind that one!

To back up a bit: M just started his 4th week as a camp counselor. It’s been going very well so far — a fair bit of challenging behavior from the kids, and he’s discovered that “6- and 7-year-olds cry a lot for no reason,” but overall he seems to be doing a great job with the kids.

For 3 of the 4 weeks he’s been assigned to a den that includes the camp’s most challenging kid, J. J has had some really tough issues in his past, so the fact that he comes with a lot of (as M put it) “attention-seeking behaviors and problems with impulse control” is not surprising. M insists that the den leader assignments each week are random. Personally, I think the camp leaders have realized that M actually does a really good job of addressing J’s behavior without labeling J a bad kid, and M also came with references about babysitting a special-needs kid, so he’s got a bit more experience.

Anyway, today J came up to M while brandishing wet dirty underwear on a stick, and whacked M with it a few times. J said he’d found it in a puddle. M said the camp policy for lost underwear is to throw it out rather than put it in lost-and-found (who knew a camp had a separate policy for underwear?) so he confiscated the skivvies, put them in the trash, and got whacked a couple more times by the stick before finally disarming J. At that point, another kid in the den wandered up and announced he was missing his underwear. M, with a sinking feeling, described what he’d put in the trash. Yup. Since it was early enough in the day for the trash barrel to still be otherwise empty, M suggested the kid could fish the underwear out of the trash. The kid did, but based on the wet/dirty/trash-contamination aspects decided to put it in his bag rather than put it back on. Good call. M said the kid didn’t seem too perturbed about not wearing underwear for the rest of the day, but then again, the kid was also oblivious to the fact his shirt was on inside out.

Well good. At least it wasn’t a finicky kid whose underwear had run afoul of J and the stick.

And I can’t help but smile as a I picture a parent somewhere in eastern Massachusetts tonight, going through a kid’s bag of camp stuff, asking, “What happened to your underwear?” and hearing the kid reply, “My counselor accidentally threw it out.” And knowing there’s got to be a story behind it….

Proof of skills

Advanced Placement exam scores become available on a staggered basis geographically, based on IP address, so the servers don’t crash. My employer’s web traffic is routed through our headquarters in another state, so I told M that I could look up his scores at work so he’d know them a day earlier. (Because really, when you’ve been waiting 2 months, that extra day makes all the difference!)

I logged in, checked his scores, then laboriously on my simple little phone tapped out a text message: Stat 5 eng 5 chem 4 congrats I may not be able to manage punctuation, but at least I figured out how to mix numbers and letters in the same message; that took real effort.

M texted back from the camp bus: Yay! You learned how to text! Love you!

So now we know: M has mastered statistics, chemistry, and English literature well enough to get various credits at nearly all the colleges he’s applying to, and I’ve mastered rudimentary texting.

Yesterday was M’s first day working as a counselor at the Scout day camp. In the morning I wished him good luck, and said that I hoped he got a good group of kids this week, and that they weren’t too annoying or weird. He replied, “I’m sure they’ll be annoying or weird, but they’ll be good anyway.” What an astonishingly mature response, and perhaps the perfect attitude for a camp counselor to have!

Last night, he reported that the first day went well. “Changing for swimming took forever; they all lost articles of clothing.” (Said with a bit of an air of superiority, despite the fact that 3 days earlier, he’d forgotten his folding camp chair when packing up from his campsite during prep week.) “But I helped them find everything. We were late for the flag ceremony, and then it turned out my den was supposed to lead it, and they did a terrible job and couldn’t even stand in a straight line next to me, but it didn’t really matter much. And the kids were pretty well-behaved, except for one kid who kept throwing things, but even he was pretty nice.”

When E asked why the kid kept throwing things, M replied, “At age 9 or 10, they don’t really need a reason.” He’s right! And clearly the 2 summers he spent in the CIT program did an excellent job of preparing M to deal with these kids in a positive way, even when things aren’t all perfect. I’m so proud of him.

In other M news, he just survived his first solo trip driving the car (all of 2.5 miles to a friend’s house.) He called to let me know he got there safely, so I wouldn’t worry. I hadn’t asked him to do this, but it was rather reassuring that he did, especially considering his friend had called 30 seconds earlier wondering where he was.


We are now the parents of a licensed teenage driver.

M goes off to overnight Scout camp tomorrow for a week of staff training, before starting his job as a day camp counselor. (And fortunately, he won’t need to drive to get to his job; he can take the same bus the camp kids do.) So I’ll add him to the insurance sometime this week, but it won’t be until next Saturday that he’ll have an opportunity to take the keys and drive my car off down the road all by himself.



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