Thursday, March 14, 2013

Aaaaand, She's Off!

I got up at four this morning to drop Twelve off at school, where she joined the rest of her seventh grade class to begin their field trip to Washington, DC. Don't tell her, but inside her suitcase are three copies of Out of My Mind (chosen mostly because our local independent book store had three copies, but it turns out to be a fairly highly acclaimed novel) for the girls in her group. It's possible that each pair of socks has a little note folded inside, too.

Basically, I will take any excuse to use the (paper) pinking shears and every color of sharpie. 

Twelve LOVES this sort of thing, even though she tries to act like she's embarrassed. I sneaked a balloon bouquet and a heart-shaped cookie into her locker on [stupid, commercialized, heterosexist] Valentine's Day, and she kind of pretended it wasn't cool even though it quite clearly was. I left a post-it note on her locker after Monday's PTA meeting, and she told me later that she was just glad that she got to it before anyone saw it. Go ahead, pretend you didn't like it, I'll play along.

We've been really focused on preparing for the DC trip for several weeks now. Despairing of Twelve ever caring enough about her terrible posture to try very hard to develop the necessary muscles, I finally decided to just flat-out bribe her with cold hard cash since I knew she'd be wanting spending money for the trip. I used the same strategy that was so successful in eliminating extraneous uses of the word 'like' from her speech patterns; I wrote "$100" at the top of a piece of paper and deducted a dollar every time I had to remind her to stand up straight. Combined with the physical therapy exercises that she more or less bothered to do occasionally, that did the trick. She now looks much, much better (the real reason I care) and will avoid back problems and pain later in life (the reason the insurance company will continue to pay for physical therapy).

It occurred to me just a couple of weeks ago that Twelve, for all that she is known at school as a social butterfly and incorrigible chatterbox, is truly an introvert. She's been spending hours each day and entire days on the weekends puttering around her room and reading, but I didn't connect the dots until she skipped a Young Life meeting and came straight home after school, saying that she just didn't feel like she'd had enough time at home lately. Oh, crap, I thought. Nine days with other people constantly around just might actually kill her. Trying not to be one of those freaked-out moms, I brought it up with her group chaperone, who reassured me that she would make sure that there was plenty of down time and that she'd be on the lookout for Twelve needing time alone. I told Twelve that yeah, it's kind of a dick move, but she could always just shut herself into the bathroom for an unnecessarily long shower if she needed to. Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all.

Spring volleyball started last week, which just gave us one more thing to fit into the week. Who thinks that 7:15-8:45 pm is a reasonable hour for middle school volleyball open gyms and observation sessions? Not me, that's for sure, and throwing that into the mix required Twelve to think very strategically about her packing and laundry plans.

Ah, packing. I told Twelve that she could use my wonderful red rolling suitcase (it has wheels on all four corners, which is the best suitcase feature ever), but no. She wanted to borrow my cousin's Big Purple Suitcase. Twelve used to use it for her trips to visit her dad until the airlines started charging for checked bags. I told her that she should pack light, since she has to maneuver her own luggage from the bus to the airport and from the airport to the hotel on the Metro, but she insisted. I gave in, partially, and said that she could take the Big Purple Suitcase on the condition that she contacted my cousin on her own and only if my cousin was willing to drop it off. Since I failed to quickly warn my cousin to say no, she very kindly brought the suitcase over.

It's a good thing that airlines have luggage weight restrictions, because Twelve is a very thorough packer and it is a very large case. 

The planning continued right up until bedtime last night. R had just returned home from a six-week work stint in Costa Rica, and as I was tucking Twelve in, it occurred to him that he has a few dead birds to deliver to the Museum of Natural History (we have quite a collection in the unused ice maker compartment of our freezer), and wouldn't it be cool if she took them with her to hand-deliver to the curator. Yes, it would be pretty damn cool to be the seventh grader who posts up at the information desk with a few dead birds that the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History doesn't have yet. We all discussed the impracticalities of this idea, given that we don't happen to keep dry ice on hand and that transporting frozen carcasses is probably frowned upon by seventh grade trip coordinators (if not outright banned by the TSA). Eventually Twelve - who was becoming increasingly enthralled by the idea of being such an important person - suggested that R could mail the birds to her at the hotel.

We are pretty sure we can get a package to her in time for their scheduled trip to the museum, but R is getting conflicting information on the process for properly packing and shipping bird specimens, so we'll see.

If that doesn't work out, perhaps she will run into the acquaintance who reports via Facebook that she, too, will be in DC on Saturday. Twelve already can't go on a school trip in our town without running into an adult she knows from something or other, and has shared at least one cross-country flight with someone we know, so why not encounter a friendly face in the nation's capital?

I got a phone call a few hours ago from somebody's dad, the guy at the top of the phone tree, with the information that they arrived at the hotel and were eating dinner. Okay, that's great news, even though I did kind of assume that that's what would happen, so I proceeded to call the next person on the tree. Trouble is, nobody (but me, apparently) answers unfamiliar numbers anymore, so I ended up calling every single person all the way down the list and leaving messages. I'd like to give a special shout-out to the mother who was on vacation; thanks so much for putting your work number on the phone tree. I really enjoyed trying to explain things to whoever that was who answered, especially since he had no idea what was going on and did not feel authorized to give me your cell number. If I ever get that far down with the message-leaving again, I'm going to skip you entirely. Have a great vacation.

Twelve called to say goodnight - I was very clear that I expect a call every night, we'll see what happens - and it was an absolutely classic call of obligation: "Hi mom, I'm going to bed now, bye!" Hold on a second there, sweetie. How was your flight? "Good." How was the bus ride to the airport? "Good." How was getting from the airport to the hotel? "Good. Oh, we got the presents, thank you!" Okay, you're welcome, goodnight.

Thus begins my week-long holiday from parental responsibility. I'm sure I have big 'woo-hoo, the kiddo's out of town' plans around here someplace ... 

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