The Small Stuff That is Actually Big Stuff

I love summer.   I love having the kids around more. I love that there is (almost) no homework. I love the escape from the daily grind of school and carpooling and sports. I love being outside.

This year, I decided not to book too many camps for E. She is turning 10 soon and those double digits loom large. I want to keep her near me this summer, while I can. Her 15 year old brother is working, working out, and out and about much of the time – as he should be – so I know what’s coming. This summer, she’s mine.

But I’m not crazy. She is super social and wants to spend time with her friends. A bunch of them, including E, are doing a half day sports camp for a couple of weeks. Offered through our local community school, it is easy and uncomplicated. No pool, no busing anywhere. Just a few hours of gym-class fun and Gatorade. She loves it.

Before I signed her up, I contacted the man who runs it. She has known him practically her whole life. He used to be the gym teacher at my son’s elementary school, so she made friends with him from the stroller at pick up and drop off many years ago. He has seen her transform from a typically dressed baby and toddler to the gender expansive whirlwind she is today. I wonder what he thinks. I’m sure he wasn’t too surprised by my email to him a few months ago.

E wants to do your camp. How is it run? How do you separate the kids? If you separate by gender, E would like to be with the boys.

There was a flush of relief when he emailed me back. They separate by grade. Boys and girls are together. There will be no problem for E.

For a moment, I turned on myself. Why did I have to make an issue of something that turned out to be a non-issue? Did I just draw attention to something in E that could have gone under the radar? Am I making a big deal about this – so many kids have issues, right? I even jabbed at my emotions: why am I so grateful for this totally normal thing?

Then I remembered the eye-darting scramble of E’s face at the Field Day tug-of-war station (and the basketball station and the three legged race station…) when the parents in charge unwittingly organized the kids by gender. I remembered her lost, blank, sad expression as she stood on stage with the girls in her 2nd grade musical performance (even though she was wearing her own sports uniform.) Her isolated resignation: I never go to the bathroom at school.

These are not stumbling blocks for most kids. Most kids fit fairly neatly into place and their parents to do not have to sweat the small stuff that is actually big stuff for E. I let myself off the hook. I need to look after her in a different way. There are things that affect her that don’t affect others.   It is my job to identify these things and pave the way so it’s a little less rocky. There are enough bumps in the road for E.

This morning another email came, from a camp she is doing later in the summer. The kids should bring a water bottle, a yoga mat and a fresh tee-shirt to change into for the afternoon session. No big deal, right?

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