Friday, August 20, 2010

Extra Horse Camp

Kelly's last *official* week of Horse camp was August 2-6. This was a summer FULL of horses. I'm surprised she's not walking with bowed legs, and singing "Git along, little dogies"...

I mean really, what's not to love about spending a week with the ponies?

Too bad she hated every minute of it...

I've gotten to know the teacher/leader over the weeks, and we were shooting the breeze towards the end of camp, when she looked at me and said "I don't want to stir any pots, but I think Kelly's been bullied a bit this summer..."

And this comment really put me on guard, and I started watching.

And sure enough, I saw a bunch of stuff that I was uncomfortable with. Nothing big, or major that you can put a finger on, but just that little buzz in the back of your brain that says 'things could be better'.

And then I took Kelly aside just before we went away to Palm Desert, and I asked her if we could 'speak in confidence', where you talk about things that you don't want other people to know, but it's not gossip, it's just making sure that the truth is coming out, and nobody's in trouble, and nobody's to blame, but let's just clear the air here. And I asked her if she had any ideas why the teacher would ask me if I felt she was being bullied.

It started as a little bit of a trickle, but soon enough, the flood gates opened, and all the injustices over the last year or two were gushing out. And it turns out that because one of the other campers is older, she's been keeping Kelly a bit under her thumb at camp. "Oh, you'll have to wait and let ME do this (presumably fun) thing first, seeing as *I* am the better horsewoman, because I've been riding longer than you", and the thing that just galled me the most? Turns out she has been introducing Kelly to the new people at camp as "Oh, this is my idiot friend..."

Um, yeah.

Let's put the kibosh on that right away.

Oh wait... that means I have to have a VERY awkward conversation with her mother, who is a dear friend.

But in the mean time, I listened to Kelly's horse camp instructor when she said "It really would be good if Kelly could have had a week where she was at horse camp alone, without having to stand in the shadow of some of these older girls."

And I said "You know what? I think I can make that happen."

And that's how Kelly ended up with ONE MORE WEEK OF HORSE CAMP.

We didn't have a full week before the end of the summer, so I went to the camp manager, and asked if Kelly could have another week of camp, but if she could have it split over two weeks. Three days last week, and two days this week. There was some resistance, but eventually they let me have my way.

I was really glad that the weather FINALLY got nice this week on Monday and Tuesday. For most of the summer, the coast has been shrouded in fog, and the temperatures haven't gotten out of the 50s. But on Monday afternoon, the sun came out.

And look! She's galloping!

There's the smiling girl that I knew was out there:

Did she get taller this week? Or older? She suddenly looks older.

There is a confidence, and an ease about her that I didn't see in the earlier weeks of camp.

And I am really glad that we scrounged the cash together for this last week.

The girls have talked, and said some good things that I think will have lasting fruit. Her friend has apologized to Kelly for putting her down in public, and they've worked out a way that Kelly can let her know when she crosses the line of bossy/manipulative, without embarrassing either one of them.

This year, they will be at the same school, for the first time in their lives, and I am glad that I was able to step in, and let Kelly know that she had to stand up for herself, and not just let her 'friends' put her down, and call it a joke. I don't know if they'll have much interaction at school (It's a big school, and they are in different grades), but I know that I've set the groundwork for her interacting with other girls, who may be lovely to her now, but who knows what's going to happen when the hormones start surging in the next little while. And I've laid a good foundation with this 'talk' with her, that she now comes to me and says "Let's have a 'talk in confidence' time, ok?" and lets me in on all sorts of things that are going on in her life.

I hope she never stops.

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