Oh, my very goodness gracious. It’s been another long weekend — the fourth consecutive one for which I’ve been out of town. This weekend took me back to my school teacher days, what with spending so much time on a bus and staying in hotel rooms and attending endless seminars-workshops-small group sessions. My first reaction is to say that I’m far too old for this and that my body doesn’t allow for such interruptions. But my second — and abiding — reaction is to say that it was incredibly fulfilling and was, somehow, a much-needed reminder that I am at my best when I’m with kids.
I took 15 members of my youth group to a Conference-sponsored United Methodist Youth convention about three hours from home. (The UMC has an episcopal form of government and a specific heirarchy that goes something like this: General Conference (more or less international); Jurisdictional Conferences (regional in the national sense, putting me in the South Central Conference); Annual Conferences (regional on a more local level, with my annual conference being my whole state); District Conferences (regional on a very localized level and usually grouped by counties); and Charge Conferences (very local, almost always the church or churches served by a particular pastor). Anyway, this particular event was sponsored by the Annual Conference, meaning that United Methodist youth in grades 7-12 from across the state of Arkansas were present — which ended up amounting to 920+ teens.
I know this is probably the point where I should explain how important the event was for the kids and how much I enjoyed seeing them benefit from it. But honestly, all I can focus on right now is how fulfilling it was for me. And I’m not talking about the organized, pre-planned events. Rather, what I realized was that I have an incredible gift for this sort of thing. I can organize and carry out such trips with ease. I can deal with obstacles like poor hotel service with ease. I can make sure my kids are in their rooms and stay there at room check — and then make sure that they have tons of fun the following day while also being well rested.
It was also wonderful to see the kids’ reactions to the weekend’s activities — especially the junior highers who had never been to an event of this size and nature. They were so excited on the way home and found it to be a truly wonderful experience.
As much as I like being with my kids and/or being on the road, there are downsides to constant travel. Foremost among these are my kittens, who apparently feel completely abandoned when I’m gone for more than four hours at a time. This is evidenced by their clawing their way into my lap as soon as I sit down and thereafter refusing to budge, even when I have other things to do like write letters or pay bills or pluck hairs out of my chin.
The kittens also have a nasty habit of destroying any- and everything. Case in point: I had to buy a new computer two weeks after I got the kittens because they tumped a flower vase onto my laptop one night and completely short-circuited my computer. I quickly forgave them for that because it was my fault for putting the vase on the shelf above the computer.
Lately the kittens’ penchant for destruction has related to paper products. I have a (bad) habit of eating supper at my computer desk, and sometimes I’m lazy and don’t put everything away. That’s not completely true, either. It’s not as though I leave food (or drinks, anymore) lying around — but I did leave paper napkins on the desk the first weekend I was away. When I arrived home that Sunday afternoon I found at least six napkins shredded and littering my carpet. It was as though the Brawny man threw a party in my house and used his own products as confetti. I quickly learned to return unused paper napkins to the appropriate drawer in the kitchen. Problem solved!
…..Except that the removal and proper placement of paper napkins forced the kittens to become more creative. The second weekend I was out of town, I returned home and discovered that the pussies had become enamored with the Kleenex box. An entire box of tissues lay empty and forlorn in the middle of the living room floor, surrounded by tiny bits and pieces of that soft paper that used to fill it. Experience is a good teacher, though, and I realized that I had to turn my Kleenex box upside down when not in use. Problem solved!
……Except that during my third weekend out of town the kittens found the Holy Grail of paper destruction: the toilet paper roll. I ran into the house that Sunday afternoon needing to pee so badly I thought I would burst. But the roll — which I had replaced just before I had left — was completely empty because the toilet paper was strewn throughout the house. And I mean throughout the house: starting in the bathroom, weaving its way down the hallway and into the living room, snaking into the dining area and around the kitchen, then back through the living room and bathroom. My toilet paper was figure eight-ed within my house! And the kittens were entirely too pleased with themselves. Sitting there on the toilet, gazing at the yards of (somewhat unusable) TP marking a mysterious path throughout my home, was entirely disconcerting. (“Paper, paper everywhere, but nary a piece to wipe…”) I did manage to salvage a good bit of the toilet paper, but it’s an entirely different kind of pain in the ass to find a segment of TP large enough to adequately do the job. No one should have to rifle through a plastic bag of toilet paper remnants to wipe her ass.
There’s really nothing to be done about the toilet paper issue, short of keeping the bathroom door shut around the clock — which I do now. But it’s a bitch on cold mornings, because I have gas heat and the blower is in the living room.
If I had posted about my kittens’ paper antics two weeks ago, I’d have been all bitter and disgusted because I had a crap vacuum cleaner. But I treated myself when I got my last paycheck and purchased a brand new one for the low, low price of $39.99. Now I don’t spend Sunday evenings crawling through my house picking up tiny fragments of paper. It is so very, very sad that I find pleasure in vacuuming.
In other news, I bought $67 worth of Tupperware last night. I am becoming tragically domestic. What have I become? WHAT HAVE I BECOME?