Thanks for Reading Suburban Adventure

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Girls and ceremonies....

I think Im finally making my way back to the land of the living. I can't recall the last time I was sick and I have to say that the last three days have not been a bit rugged. I have had some sort of chest congestion/ head cold that is slowing me down, well actually it's not slowing me down it is just extremely bothersome. As a single mom with no family around- taking care of young ones when you don't feel well actually becomes a slight challenge. Thankfully, they are sweet and caring so it's fine. I actually slept seven hours last night so obviously something is very wrong. I say that with a smile however I must admit, it was nice to wake up after four thirty in the morning for a change. Im on the mend so I know today is going to be a great day.

Last night, Giavanna had her closing Brownie ceremony and was welcomed into Girl Scouts. I didn't know what to expect and it was a lovely ceremony filled with ritual, honor and commitment. I was proud of Giavanna standing up there with all of here friends taking their oath. It made me recall my year of brownies which was certainly not as meaningful as I couldn't wait for my membership to wrap up. The brown beanie threw me over the edge as you know Im all about the look- just kidding- not really.

Giavanna has been in girl scouts for three years along with all of her friends. The group is lead by two wonderful women who are great role models for our girls. They are both intelligent, caring, savvy and strong-willed. They love working with the girls and teaching them important life skills. Caryn runs the troop as if it were a small business in the most wonderful way. She used to work for Calvin Klein so she brings tremendous order,intelligence, goodwill, insight and structure to the girls. She has spend endless hours preparing meetings, outings and most importantly, she has taught each of the girls the importance of giving to those in need. Mona is passionate,Family-oriented, tenacious, committed and is extremely giving of her time. She manages a household of four children, a successful family business and teaches religious education along with girl scouts. She has also recently teamed up with one of the most productive Real Estate agents in Fairfield county. What wonderful examples for our girls. Im grateful to both of them as I know how much time and effort they put into their roles as leaders.

I was most impressed with the amount community service that this group has participated in over the years. They have made holiday cards for the senior citizens, had food drives for those in need and various other meaningful projects. The one that touched me the most was when Giavanna told Caryn that her cousin Peter was serving in Afghanistan. When Peter left for Afghanistan it was an emotional time for all of his family members. We would mention him every night in our daily prayers and my children knew the potential danger that lurked around the bend. One day aqt a scout meeting Giavanna spoke to her group about her brave cousin Peter, she was proud of him and it was very meaningful to her that he was serving her country. She liked to brag about him and also told the girls that he was cute. He does look a bit like Matt Damon so she's right about that.

Caryn and Mona decided that the girls would all sponsor Peter for the year. I was in touch with him via the computer and he gave me regular updates of his experience, which I passed on to the troop. He told me about the kids that would chase the trucks and tanks of the US soldiers in hopes of getting candy or pencils thrown their way. Clearly they were seeking a diversion from the horror of the war around them. Something that symbolized hope and fun and youth. The troop decided that they would send school supplies to the children of Afghanistan and begun preparing a large supply that would be sent over. It was such a meaningful project. They all wrote to Peter wishing him well and a very large box filled with lined paper, pencils, glue etc... was sent to be distributed to all the kids that would chase their tank. What an amazing experience for the girls.

To learn to be giving to those in need and to be mindful of the good fortune that you have are things that you will hear on a daily basis in my house. I think it is crucial that we look beyond our beautiful homes and plentiful lives and recognize the needs and sufferings of many people all over the world as well as our own backyard. If we teach our children this when they are young they will grow up with a sympathetic heart and a giving soul.

We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. It is packed with intelligent, successful and cultured people. I live here specifically for those reasons and I want my children to grow up in this environment. I do however take every opportunity to point out how other people live- the ones that are not so fortunate.

A few months ago, Erika- are beloved babysitter of four years- had a baby. I took my children to visit her at her apartment in Bridgeport. We were clearly driving into a very poor neighborhood and as I pulled up to her house- I myself was a little nervous that my car would get tampered with. My children had a look of fear on their face and I comforted them. I was feeling the same discomfort. We walked up three flights to her apartment with gifts in hand, and I could not believe that so many people could fit into a one room apartment. There were five adults and one baby sharing the space of an apartment that was smaller than the office in my house.

We met the baby and sat on the sofa with Erika and her husband. Christopher was extremely uncomfortable while Giavanna was distracted by the newborn. They proceeded to tell me in Spanish that a drug dealer used to live below them and on occasion would come back to the unit and make all sorts of noise.I was happy that my children could not understand the dialogue and spoke even faster just to make sure. They have heard me speaking Spanish over the years, but only know the very basics. There was rap music loudly blaring from the street and I could not wait to get out of there. I was fearful of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was fearful that my car would be gone when I left and I was extremely uncomfortable all around. My feelings however were contained and I remained smiling and chatty despite my interior discomfort.

We stayed for 45 minutes and then we happily jumped into the comfort of our car. As we locked the doors and drove away I didn't have to say a word. My children started to tell me that they were sorry that Erika had to live like that. They expressed concern for her safety and they could not wait to get home. It only took us fifteen or so minutes on the highway to get home. A different way of life was not far from our four acre living.

I took this opportunity to deliver a very important message. You don't have to travel too far to find people living in despair. You don't have to get on a plane and spend hours in your car to find people living in impoverished areas. In less than twenty minutes from our beautiful town we had traveled to an entirely different land. One filled with danger,drugs, gangs,despair and poverty. How could we only be twenty minutes from our house. I emphasized all of this to Christopher and Giavanna and I believe it will serve them well.

I didn't realize that the world did not live like we did in Greenfield Hill until I was 18 and I moved to Boston. As I reflect on that, I find it incredible that I was so sheltered that I could think this way. Im so glad that I went to school in a city as opposed to a big, beautiful campus or I might still be in the dark. Kidding aside- it was a real eye-opener when I moved away from home. My parents gave me the best of everything and those around us were living the exact same way, more or less.

As a child, we used to drive into Manhattan at least once a month to enjoy play or musical or art exhibit. I remember sitting in the backseat with the classical music playing as I gazed out at all of the sights along the way. As you approach the city, on the left hand side there is very large apartment complex. It is packed with tiny apartments and to this day Im in awe of many people live in that building. My parents did not feel the need to point out how other people lived and my parents had a very generous spirit, which was wonderful. I just want my children to find out a bit earlier than I did that the world is not so fortunate.

Look beyond the comfort of your life and give to others. Whether it is food, clothing or kindness you will make a difference in their life and you will teach your children to be compassionate adults. Caryn and Mona thank you for giving of your time and heart to help mold our young girls to be better women. Both of you have made a meaningful difference.

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