I think this all started many months ago when I went into the lodge manager’s office and flatly stated that I refused to give a sixteen year old girl a dot-to-dot activity to do as part of our ‘kids program.’
“I’m redesigning this. I’m redesigning all of this…” I announced as I left the office to give a booklet of friendly glowworm colouring activities to a university applicant.
Fast forward to now. I’ve spent hundreds of hours at a computer screen, making crafts, researching ‘stuff that kids like to do,’ traveling across the province for supplies and to meet up with my awesome co-kids-program designer, spending time together researching ‘stuff that kids like to do,’ making crafts and spending hundreds of hours at a computer screen. Work has gone into this. It’s been fun. On the downside, I’ve also learned so many things I never wanted to learn at hideous websites such as ‘Mumsnet’ and ‘Yummy Mummy Canada.’
And now somehow (quite by accident) I’m my lodge’s resident ‘kids guide.’
Wouldn’t that role be better in the hands of you know, like, any of our lodge’s other guides? ALL of whom have their own children? Not the girl who sometimes cries herself to sleep over the fact that she’ll never be able to reproduce? For months I’ve been looking up how I can transfer my genes to some other lifeform before it’s too late. But what I’ve learned is that I can’t. And I shouldn’t. A child raised by a mother with wildly unstable tendencies and no father? Nope, on second thought, let’s drop that idea…
Do I really need kids? Because what it all comes down to is genes. Our genes want to survive. At all costs. We’re simply their little vehicles for doing that. And I don’t appreciate the havoc they cause us in the process.
I can take comfort in my gorgeous cousins. Two of them have had two children each. And those children are perfect. I mean that. They’re worldly, they’re ethical, and even though the oldest is only eight, they have minds full of truths so deep we’ll never know. They’re going to take their genes (some of which we share – woohoo!) off into the world and SHAKE IT UP. That’s enough. That’s more than enough. Love.
I’m going to think of myself as a wild dog. Most wild dogs will never have babies. Only alpha males and females will ever reproduce. The rest watch as their brothers and sisters have babies and they know it’ll never be them. It’ll never be their turn. And they’re cool with that. They help raise their siblings’ puppies and they don’t question what the universe dealt them. As a ‘non-alpha,’ are their lives less fulfilling without puppies of their own? They still run the same savannas, taste the same kudus and some of the genes that make them who they are still survive into the future. So that’s that.
I’m a wild dog. A wild bitch, technically.
So back to the kids program. It has its ups and downs. As more children pass through it, I learn what works and what doesn’t. What knowledge stays with them and what doesn’t. What crafts they enjoy and which ones they don’t. What I’m really learning is that they’re much like cats – they’d rather just play with the cardboard box. Like everything else at this lodge, my kids program is figuring out its own identity. What I can do in the meantime is just create a space where their minds can blossom. These are the people who are going to decide whether rhinos and elephants and coral reefs will continue or go extinct. If I can teach them to say no to the next plastic straw they’re offered, that’s a big win.
I’m sure there’ll be more on my kids program in the coming weeks. It’s kind of taken over my life and everything else that used to be in it. I’m exhausted, but then I’ve spent most of my days running around after children with a rubber snake in my hands screaming, ‘arrrrrg! It’ll kill us all!’ Random.
I leave you with the ‘bug house’ that my kidlets made this week. I love it. Kindness to bugkind.
Hoofnote: I’ve snuck in some extra awesomeness through the back door of this kids program… Indoor activities are all done to the sweet soundtrack of the Barenaked Ladies epic album, Snacktime. If you’re an alpha and have kids, don’t raise them without this. ‘Here come the geese…’