Ready for Horseback Riding at Camp
It was a very big deal for us (as parents) to make the decision to send Isabella to sleep-away camp. Last summer, she went for two weeks with a girlfriend from school (read: built-in safety net — that’s good for the child, but mostly the parents).When we went to pick her up to come home to attend a family function, she asked to go back for another two weeks. We obliged. This summer we wanted a camp with more academics. We found one, but the only option was 7 weeks. Yikes! Isabella’s response: “Seven weeks is a long time.” Yes, it is.
It felt like diving into water that you know will be frigid, but it’s a hot, humid day. If you want to cool off, you have to do it. If we wanted Isabella to get a more academic experience (preventing regression), while encouraging independence, we had to go for the 9-week sleep-away camp. It has been three weeks and today is Isabella’s 15th birthday. It’s certainly not were I expected her to be at 15 when she was born or even when she was 5. Here she is nevertheless — loving it, learning, and getting those wings that she (just like every child) needs.
Three teens in the house. Living the dream! (FYI: for those of you who were never teenagers — this is sarcasm.) The angst! The communication breakdown. The fashion sense (or lack thereof)! Isabella experiences many of the same stuff as typical teens. Of course, there are differences. The most glaring to me, as her parent and as a former teen (yes, teens, I was once a teenager), is her lack of a social life.
Most Friday and Saturday nights, Vitoria and Zachary have plans. Victoria’s are, of course, made on Mondays and discussed throughout the entire week; while Zachary’s are made about 2 minutes before departing the house. Isabella has no plans — either planned or last minute. It saddens me as a former social butterfly. Here’s yet another piece of life that Isabella is missing out on.
While we were dining with my college roommate (with whom I spent many Friday & Saturday nights) and her husband , I commented that it was sad that Isabella was home and the other two were out. Kathleen replied, there are sadder things. Um. She was right. Was it really sad that my “different daughter” (that’s a good book title!) did not have a rocking social life? Isabella doesn’t care. Only I care. She never says why can’t I go out and hang out at Cadman Plaza and eat at a diner (Victoria’s activities) or watch my friends play on an X-box (what Zachary does). She doesn’t even ask why she doesn’t go to school with her twin brother. She is happy. Isn’t that what counts?
Every year Isabella’s school hosts a feel good fundraiser. It’s the fashion show. Isabella talks about it incessantly. Most of the kids in the school walk down a runway wearing clothing that has been lent to the school for this very purpose. This year, I think, was the first year that Isabella walked, or rather ran, with a classmate, rather than a teacher. She was really excited. I didn’t give it much thought until she jumped on the runway nearly dragging her partner. Clearly in a hurry, Isabella didn’t stop to get her picture taken. And I was worried about the physical condition of her friend, who is not quite as fast. Thanksfully, everything is okay and she has stopped obssessing about the fashion show. Well, at least until next month when she’ll ask,”When is the fashion show.”
Friendships, relationships, are THE most important part of life. Few would disagree. I am lucky enough to have several great friendships, mostly with women, of course, who make the best friends. I love these friends. I will have them forever. Friendships for children like Isabella are difficult. It’s difficult to be Isabella’s friend. She craves friends, but they are elusive. Isabella is certainly well liked, but rarely invited to birthday parties of children we know in town. This is the saddest part of raising Isabella. It’s not the fact that her reading lags behind her peers or that she thinks that Michael Jackson’s death is the most significant current event (okay, that’s typical of many 13 year-olds), it’s her desire for friends and her lack of friendships.