So I just got back from a 4-day camping trip with my 13-year-old’s school. Kelsey goes to an alternative school that does these “adventures,” and this one was a photo excursion around the state of Colorado.
So armed with camera in hand, plus tents, sleeping bags, and the rest of the huge pile of gear (amazing what you need for just 4 days!), off we went!
Now Kelsey was the youngest and smallest one on the trip. There were 20 kids from 7th grade through high school… they blend the grades for these things.
But you know what? She did something that actually rocked my core.
She did a wonderful job of just BEING who she is.
Let me share a few examples.
First, the first evening after shooting beautiful landscapes all day and then having a campfire dinner, the group “circled up” and the teacher asked them to each share about their day (best moment, what they learned, what was a challenge).
Then she says, “OK… who wants to start?” And Kelsey’s hand SHOOTS UP, so powerfully that she was immediately chosen.
And there was my kid, holding her own, claiming her spot in the group, participating fully without concern of what the older kids would think. (And they were all older!).
Wow… I was overcome that she was just being her. Just excited to share about her day. Unaware of any social pressure, or need to be cool, or deferring to an older kid to start who’s been at the school much longer.
And another example.
So that same night, about ½ hour later, it was about to be time to get into our tents and get to bed. (The kids had been given a 15 minute warning).
Now Kelsey was assigned to a tent with 3 other 7th grade girls. (We had all driven down together, and had a blast the whole way).
But she came up to me and said “Mom, I’m kind of scared. Would it be OK if I slept in your tent tonight?”
A simple question – my kid attending to her needs!
So of course that was fine with me, and the two of us shared a lovely night of cuddles and watching the rain pitter-patter on the tent canopy.
And the next day, she said “Hey Mom, I think I’m ready to sleep with the other girls tonight.”
And there it was. She asked for what she needed, and then after the experience her first instinct was to stretch further.
The commonality I draw from these distinctly different examples is that she is still at the age – or the innocence – of just BEING. In fact, Kelsey is a “young” 7th grader, on the kid side of puberty, and hasn’t been too jaded yet with regard to judging everything she does and says.
Why is it that we forget that freedom?
No one can escape the “shoulds” and expectations that come from family, peers, and society.
But just for today, I challenge all of us to be reminded of Kelsey. Just playing life fully. Eager when we are eager, cautious when we are cautious, but more than anything – authentic.