A blog by Lori Lyons

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Great Outdoors is outside, you know.

She doesn't even like to go outside.

My 10-year-old daughter, the one born to be a computer whiz, a writer, a poet, a singer, a TV critic, a lawyer and/or a Drama Queen? She doesn't go out to play.  Ever.

When she comes home from school she doesn't rush inside, throw down the school bag then run back out to find friends up or down the street. That's what we did back when there were only three TV stations, computers filled an entire room and there was only one video game called "Pong."

She doesn't ride a bike. Has no desire to learn.  I'm the one who has fantasies of the two of us together, cruising the neighborhood on our bikes with cute little baskets on the front. I have resorted to putting the word out. There is a $50 reward to anyone who teaches my daughter to ride a bike before the start of summer.

She doesn't spend endless hours in the pool we built for her.   OK, for us.  (We were too old for a Jungle Gym.)  Most often, her dad and I are out in the pool, floating on a raft and getting in some oh-so-rare together time,  while she's inside designing fashions on the computer.  She comes out to check on us every once in a while.... Or she did back when she fancied being a waitress.

No. My 10-year-old daughter who is some part Native American, has no love for the Great Outdoors.

So you will understand why I was taken aback tonight when she informed us -- very excitedly -- that she wants to go to 4-H camp this summer.

For a week.

"It's four hours away," she said, actually thrilled at the prospect.

And yes, it was like a knife in this mother's heart.

Not ready, I thought to myself.  She's not ready.

I'm not ready.

One of us is not ready.

It's not that I don't want my daughter to go to camp.  I'm sure it would be a wonderful learning experience for her. The web site says it stresses teaching kids how to be self-sufficient, how to work as a team, how to be independent. Those are all skills she could definitely benefit from.

I went to Girl Scout camp when I was about her age. I still remember the Indian prayer they taught us -- complete with hand signals -- and can probably still make a Banana Boat over an open flame if I really wanted to. But that was a day camp. I got to go home to my mom at the end of the day.

This is a kid who rarely sleeps away from home, preferring her friends to come to our house instead (as do I).

And a kid who hardly ever goes outside to play, preferring to chat with friends on the computer or build a web site (No. I'm not kidding), or blog, or write an incredible fiction story that will simply knock my socks off, or draw an amazing picture of one of her friends or use her amazing voice to sing along with her iPod.

A kid who likes to stay up til 2 a.m. and sleep 'til noon.

A kid who has to have the TV on in whatever room she's in to chase the monsters away.

What would she possibly do at a camp that stresses the discovery of nature? That asks parents not to call for the entire week? That isn't stocked with Chitos? That has no refrigerator?

"It has air conditioning," she added. "No, really! Air conditioning! And plugs for my iPod. I asked. And I really want to go."

One of us isn't ready.