2004-06-15 - 5:19 p.m.
Okay, so I'm leaving in a few minutes to meet Nora for dinner.
But I've been in Santa Cruz. Maddy and her friends saved up a ton on money, and are spending two nights right on the beach in this great old hotel. They can walk to the beach and the wharf and the boardwalk. It's a short jaunt downtown, with funky shopping. There's a pool. There's a staircase from the pool to the beach, so you can go back and forth. It's really the perfect set-up.
Anyway, so I was there for the first night. One parent (Anna's mom) is staying for the whole time. I drove down with them, and stayed through this morning, when Simone's dad drove down. he's going to the boardwalk, and Morgan's mom is coming tonight to spend the night with them, and then tomorrow morning, and then she and Anna's mom will drive them home. It's a pretty excellent set-up actually, since they can't really wear any one of us out.
It was interesting to be with the five of them. They are all very different kids. In fact, it's kind of a marvel that they get along as well as they do. I have some insight into it, though --
I think it works because a) they are all basically nice kids and b) there are really no best friends among them. If there was any pairing up, it would probably ruin the whole thing. Two other factors are that there are two bossy-ish ones, Anna and Simone. They actually get into fights because each one wants to be the boss. There are two peacemaking ones, Maddy and Zoe. They are pretty much willing to go along with anything to keep the peace. Morgan, the fifth, is not so worried about conflict, I don't think, but she's also not bossy. She and Maddy are pretty willing to go off and do something else is conflict arises. Maddy and Morgan are definitely not into siding with one or the other. I'm not sure about Zoe -- she may be like them in that respect, too.
Anyway -- they work well as a unit, but I think there are costs -- Maddy, Morgan and Zoe don't usually get to be the boss (although they all are quick to give each other credit about things). Simone is kind of an odd duck, being much older than the rest of them in some respects (she takes the bus all over town by herself and has a lot of that kind of smarts) but also younger (she has powerful emotions that she really has no idea how to control). Zoe's got a complicated family situation that has her pretty much in a caretaker role at home.
I think all of them probably miss having a closer friend. I can see why none of them really sees much of any of the others of them outside of school. They really are a unit kind of thing.
But they may grow into more intimacy at some point -- I bet they'll stay friends, and at some point, they may evolve closer friendships individually.
It was really fun to see them as a group, actually.
It was quite interesting to see Maddy in that context, too. I'm her mom, so I saw these things, and you, readers, can imagine that someone else's mom would give you a completely different take on all this. But Maddy, in this other context, has a sharp eye. She spotted the bird's nest in the shrubbery and the seals under the wharf. She makes the best seal noise. She's got an eye for nature. (No surprise.)
She's also in no hurry to grow up. The others all had deodorant, which troubled her. She told me that it meant either that a) the others were more mature than she or b) they just wanted to be mature. I told her that I thought either explanation was possible (I think some of both, honestly). She asked Anna's mom, who told her that she though Anna was in the B category, and that reassured her greatly.
She seems to me to be the smartest one of the bunch. She's always thinking about things. Casual conversation led her to postulate that oceans are generally bigger than seas (someone had said the words were interchangeable). There was something else, too. She's always thinking about all kinds of stuff.
Other things about others of them. Zoe may be the most compassionate. She worried that the sea lions have a miserable life. (Anna's mom and I saw no evidence of misery). Morgan, too, is thoughtful in an interesting way. Anna is as bright as a penny. Simone is fun to talk to -- you can really talk to her the way you'd talk to a grown-up.
Anyway -- got to go. Meeting Nora for dinner --
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