My vacation week is 80% over, and I’m happy about that. The first four days were the hard part, spending seven hours in the hot sun (temperatures have been in the 90’s, with humidity around 70%, for a heat index up to 105, so even in the shade it feels miserably hot) watching other people’s children. Tomorrow I get to myself (well, mostly – I have promised to play the Ungame with my younger son), in the air-conditioned house.
This was another required week off from work (cost-savings measure), and I originally planned on spending it with my younger son at Cub Scout Day Camp. That was before I found out that snow days had pushed the school district’s annual “College for Kids” a week later than expected, so that it conflicted with day camp. Unlike many boys his age, my son would rather be in a classroom doing math, art, and science than running around outdoors.
Of course, given the weather this week, some of the Scouts at camp may have wished they were indoors too. One mother expressed surprise camp hadn’t been cancelled, and more than one child went home with heat exhaustion before all of us adult volunteers became sufficiently aware of the symptoms to watch for (lethargy, headaches) and in the habit of demanding the children drink even when they didn’t feel thirsty.
I probably suffered from a bit of it myself. I felt lousy the past couple days, too tired to do anything more than I had to, or even to want to do anything. I promised myself I would not let the camp director talk me into being Tot Lot Director again next year. Supposedly I was a “figurehead,” the over-21 adult required by the rules, while teenagers would do most of the work with the kids. But much of the time I found myself alone with five or six kids aged 4 to 7.
For a lot of mothers, that would be only a minor challenge. But dealing with groups of children is simply not an area where I do well. (I like teaching them, at church, but there I have other adult helpers who sit with the children and handle distractions.) Today, I was very happy to discover, there were only two children. And teenagers helped out most of the time.
Towards the end of the day yesterday, there was one bright spot – literally. A yellow butterfly landed on my ankle, and was nice enough to stay there while I took pictures (with the digital camera I carried in my pocket). Then it moved to the grass, and I was able to take more pictures without worrying that I would disturb it by shifting my position.
The week didn’t end so well for the butterfly. Apparently its move from my ankle to the grass was about the last thing it did. From there it never moved again, and this morning I found its wings lying in the grass.
I also spent some time (between glances up at the girls playing in the wading pool) looking for four-leaf clovers. There was lots and lots of clover (made me think of Horton and his dust-speck), and I wondered if I was wasting my time – but as long as the girls played cooperatively, there was nothing much else for me to do with my time. And lo and behold, I found a four-leaf clover!
I don’t believe in objects bringing luck, but it did give me some satisfaction to find it. Later I sat in the shade (mostly – the shade kept moving to my right, and although I tried to move with it, I did get a bit of a sunburn on the left side of my neck) while the girls played with balls. Sitting in another patch of clover, I started looking again, and much to my surprise, I found another four-leaf clover.
So I have two four-leaf clovers, one small sunburn, at least a dozen bug-bites on my ankles, an increased admiration for people who are good with young children, and some nice pictures of a now-dead butterfly. And one day left of vacation to enjoy.