That’s me, on the steep, slippery slope of the curve, learning how to take care of a kid in a crash course, trial-by-fire, here-she-is-for-a-week kind of way. Childless folks, don’t try this at home.
Some things I’ve learned since Saturday at seventeen hundred hours:
My niece talks more an faster than I do, something I’d never imagined could be true. She loves dogs. She’s pretty strong for a slender, four and a half foot tall kid. She’s mostly calm and easy-going in new situations. She doesn’t wake up at the crack of dawn the way I thought all kids did. She knows stuff I just don’t imagine I would have known about as a kid (the price of gas, the evils of global warming, the relationship between gas-guzzling cars and the environment, the rules of football).
Today was the first day of Rock Camp. We rode and then walked over to the school and I dropped her off … and I have to admit that I had such a pang of sadness separating from her. I could tell she was nervous because she got quieter and quieter the closer we got to the school. Also, she was worried there was no way she could learn the electric guitar in a week (and form a band and write a song and be able to perform it …). I knew she’d be fine, but I really hated to leave her. I knew she’d be fine because she’s America’s most personable child and she makes friends easily, but still. I had to walk away from her in that big room full of kids she didn’t know, everyone looking a little shell-shocked and dazed, everyone unsure how to stand and what to do with their hands. The counselors all seemed confident and cool, which was decidedly reassuring, and as I walked out I passed a class with chairs in a circle and an electric guitar in front of each and I thought, “She’s going to have a blast.”
And she did have a blast. She was totally at ease by the end of the day when I went to get her (as were the other girls — kudos to the Rock Camp women for making that true). She talked … and talked and talked … and talked … and talked all night. As we waited for our ride after camp, she beat out the main riff from Smoke on the Water … though she had no idea what I was talking about when I named it. While I was on the phone with her grandmother, she was air-guitaring a quite comical Pete Townsend impersonation (though I’m sure she has not the first idea who PT is, either).
Her band — they are officially “LOL” now, complete with a band logo. They’ve got their song mostly hammered out, and they’re good to go. It sounds like too much fun.
Me? I am, as Baldwin wrote, “beat to my socks.” I can hardly keep my eyes open to finish this post. Only four more days … boy will I sleep on Saturday!