I made my annual trip to the boundary waters- and I learned a thing.
My daughter, Moo, is 5. Her real name is Mikka, but she’ll correct you if you’re in her circle and you should know better than to be so formal. She’s the reason I’m writing this, but WAIT. Hold on, before you assume this is some piece about kid shit just wait a damn minute.
I grew up cross-country skiing throughout the Canadian National Forest. Every year my parents dragged me six hours north to stay in a cabin where we cooked our food ourselves and went skiing all day for a week in January.
Back then, in the 80’s, it wasn’t really that big of a deal to be “disconnected” if you want to call it that. I still remember when we got our first color TV, and phones had cords; so the fact that our cabin was screen-less and wi-fi free was, well, just quieter than normal.
Clearly things have changed, and in my daughter’s world, there hasn’t been a day she remembers without me staring at a rectangle in my hand. Except for our trips in the BWCA.
Yes, this seems sad, I know. But like most of us, being hyper-connected has become a habit of mine since everything, including my work email, is at my fingertips.
Where we go there is no wi-fi. Or phone service. Thankfully the owners of the lodge where we stay have kept television out of all cabins. It’s odd, that first day. The not-checking. I go to pick it up, but don’t. It takes a second to sink in. The only reason I bring my phone is that it now serves as my camera most of the time.
Moo and I went canoeing one afternoon. She’d never been in a canoe so it was kind of a big deal to get her in. Floating that close to water is weird in tippy things. We took a jaunt down the length of East Bearskin Lake, and there was only a slight wind, but its direction kept changing.
If you’ve ever happened to canoe on your own, especially in an aluminum canoe- you’ll immediately understand at this point and shake your head knowingly.
I should have said I went sailing. Because that is what canoeing by yourself with changing winds is like.
Moo is a 29 lb twerp. Next time I will pack my damn 40 lb kettlebell and put it under her seat . Basically I couldn’t put my paddle down, because within 30 seconds we’d be headed in the opposite direction, and I’d have to try to turn around, YET AGAIN.
I was having fun, and so was she, but there were several times where I could not get in front of the wind and fought with everything I had just to keep us going straight, much less forward. I’m painting this nicely, but mama was frustrated more than half the time.
Of course Moo was very conscious of every single time we’d swing a few degrees from our “path”, and all I really wanted to do was get a drink of water. Just one. But my backpack, with a few large bottles of water was under her seat opposite me, as I needed any weight I could get on her end.
I had her hand me the backpack quickly from where she was sitting and I managed to grab it without tipping us. It then sat on my lap for the next 45 minutes as I struggled with a gusty point of the lake where I just could not make any headway.
I’m pretty sure it was during this time- (maybe after I threw the paddle on the floor of the canoe and scared the shit out of my kid) that my phone took a swim without asking.
**side note: it is now a big joke about “the time mom threw the paddle in the canoe” (for anyone with their finger on their child services speed dial button.)
Of course I’d wanted to get that photo of her in the canoe, so I put the phone in a “handy” spot, right… in the outside mesh pocket. Perfect for slipping out and into the drink.
The rest of the trip, I became painfully aware of just how addicted to a device I really am. Beyond the fact that I wasn’t checking, posting, or reading anything, I couldn’t try to take any photos, either.
I actually just had to sit there and EXPERIENCE stuff.
At one point Moo started asking me, “Mama why do you keep looking at me all the time”?
It’s appalling to realize the way your own kid views you most of the time, because you’re not looking at her, you’re looking at a device.
And even though I never spoke about the damn phone, she asked me many times. “Do you miss your phone?”
So, in review, I learned a thing.
I need to CHILL the fuck out. In two ways, actually. One, is to understand that sometimes going in the wrong direction is just fine.
And two: Put the phone away. Often.
"What can I do to help?" I get asked this all the time. I honestly don’t have a pat answer. This comment from a reader is the closest I can come to what I have learned over the last three years on how you can help addicts,
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guaranteed tears every. time.
you’re just smelling for smoke
so you can follow the trail back to a burning house
so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him
or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place
to see if you can change him
I can no longer watch TV
I was raped by four men in one evening. I got drunk and tried to say no. What did my predators do? They told me to drink more. They shoved a bottle in my face and told me to keep drinking. Drink till I was drunk enough to fuck them. I blacked out. They urinated on me. They assaulted me. They shoved foreign objects in my body, anally and vaginally. They took videos.
I was just 16 years old.
The video was sent around my entire school, and I was bullied every single day of my senior year of high school. I lost all of my friends. I was physically and verbally abused by peers and people I once called friends. Someone tried to set me on fire in the hallway during passing period.
Nobody sympathized with me. Nobody cared about the fact that because of these events, I was trying to kill myself every single day. I was cutting myself, making myself puke, showering upwards of fifteen times a day because I felt filthy. I was scratching and peeling the skin off of my body because I was dirty. I looked at myself like I deserved what I got. The world saw me as dirty, so I began to see myself that way, too.
My rapists were praised by my peers for their deed. I never had a voice.
When I first learned about the Steubenville incident going to trial, I was overjoyed. Because Jane Doe’s story was my story, and if anyone deserved justice, it was her. She would get the justice I never got. She would change the tide of the rape culture movement. Despite the horrific events that occurred, I knew that the justice served would help ease her pain.
But she didn’t get justice, and now she has to witness this news coverage, favoring and sympathizing with her attackers. Pain is not an accurate word to describe what she is feeling right now. Pain is the simplest term you could use.
As a rape victim and an aspiring journalist, I am disgusted with the way this case was reported on. Jane Doe’s rapists deserve their suffering in prison. They deserve more. They do not deserve to be sympathized with. They made their stupid decision, and they deserve whatever consequences come their way.
If you don’t want to be labeled as a rapist, don’t fucking rape."
Anonymous comment left on the CNN petition demanding they apologize for sympathizing with the Steubenville rapists (via driesvanno-youdidnt)
our (lazy) saturday afternoons.