Sunday, July 06, 2008

Conversations with a 12 year old.

Conversations with a 12 Year Old

My cousin Leslee lives in San Francisco and daughter Sara has attended a science camp (Cub Creek Science Camp) for the past 4 years in Rolla, Mo. We've offered to drive her down and back but her grandma has always done it until this year when she moved herself out to San Francisco. Since we were already going down for the 4th of July to visit my inlaws who live near by, we finally got the word that we could bring her back. Long story short, we picked her up a day early so she could visit the farm and hang out with us instead of just a quick 2 hr car ride.

Even shorter: How am I going to entertain a 12 year old girl I hardly know in a house full of Brazilians on a farm with no animals? What does one even say to a 12 year old girl?

Since Alessandra was hosting some friends at the farm as well it was up to me to go pick up my first cousin once removed for a day at a farm with no animals.

Here are the the highlights of our visit told in anecdotal conversation. Me=me, SR=Sara Rose.

SR: I believe no animal is ever responsible for an attack. It's always going to be a man going into the animals place and forgetting it's an animal. There is no such thing as a "bad" animal. Even pit bulls have to be trained, and they can be rehabilitated.

SR on NTM: No, it's not "when will the monkey bite, they always bite first thing. It's how they establish dominance. I try to teach her about anthropomorphizing, but she's already familiar with the concept and calls it "personification" which is pretty much the same thing. This girl is 12?

I know this is a silly question, but have you ever heard of a band called "The Beatles?" Me LMAO: Of course, they were the biggest pop group of all time. These two counselors at my camp [aged 17], never heard of them so I thought it was just a "California thing." Me: You are obligated to hit anyone on the nose with a rolled up newspaper if you ever hear that again.

Along the way to the farm we rescue two turtles from the highway.

SR: I have a master plan. I am going to become a veterinarian, get a job at a zoo and spend a couple of years working with big cats, maybe rescue some cheetahs, then this is the stupid part. I know it sounds stupid, but I want to rescue maybe 5 snow leopards, tranquilize them then clone them back from the edge of extinction.

Me: That is probably the best master plan I've ever heard. Think about it, by the time you finish vet school and work with the cats cloning technology will be much further along and totally possible. You have got to do it!

20 minutes into the ride to the farm: Can I ask you a question? I want to sing for you, but I need an unbiased opinion. She sings and is on key, but needs training. I tell her to remember that a)she's singing a capella, b)with no warm up & c) for a near stranger. So power to her.

While discussing the odd gifts her grandma gives her for christmas and birthdays (a tin drum so she can form a band with her brother and cousin, and a single spoon so she can learn to play the spoons). I tell her that once her grandma gave me a buy one/get one free coupon for AMC theaters. Me: Rich people don't get rich giving it away.

SR: My parents once told me "Everyone is rich in some way either in spirit, or talent or family so I told them: What about the drug addict, alcoholic with no family or friends who is about to die of aids? You can't tell me that person doesn't exist. How is he rich? They didn't have an answer.

Me:That's one of the little lies your parents tell you because they love you. They may even believe it themselves, but it's still a lie. Another one is: 'That's ok, everything will work out alright in the end' which is another lie because that certainly isn't true either.

SR: My mom told me I'd better not get burned playing with fireworks.

So I let her hold the propane torch and light our fireworks. Light then run! Later, while not exactly lying to her mom about the fireworks, neglected to tell her we were blowing shit up.

SR: I've never had a milkshake before. We later take her Steak n Shake so she can have her first strawberry/banana shake. "It's marvelous!"

SR: hates chocolate and when she received 6 boxes from boys for Valentine's Day, she offers to pay her brother and mom to eat them for her. Later in the afternoon I watch her delicately pull chocolate chips out of her Chips Ahoys.

Has read the book Wicked which has some racy parts, and wants to see the play. She heard it was awful but she wants to see it anyway "I don't want believe it's terrible because that's what people say. I want to see it because I want to judge it on my own."

SR: used the word Tenterhooks in a casual conversation.

SR: Do you miss your hair? Me: Not really, because as you can see I'm balding anyway. SR: I wish my legs would go bald because I hate shaving them. Me again laughing my ass off: Welcome to the rest of your life. You could always let it grow out and never shave like a hippy. SR: No I couldn't because I'm not a hippy.

SR: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Me: As much as I'd like to say "Optimist" I'm going to have to go with Pessimist. SR: I'm a Pessimistic Realist

SR: Did you an Alessandra have crushes on other people before you met? Me: Of course! SR: I believe in 'love at first sight' but not "true love at first sight". I don't think thats possible.

SR: I lost 3 ipods in one month. I'm not allowed to have any more. Later SR discovered she'd left her cell phone at the camp so we had to pick it up again on the way out of town. After we put her on the plane, we discovered she's left it in my car.

And so it went for a very enjoyable afternoon and day hanging out with my cousin. It shocked the hell out of me how much this girl knows. I told her she was "dangerously smart, but criminally stupid: because of some thing she had done later that evening, but man it was a gas.


She sounds delightful! It's kids like that that sometimes make me wish I'd had one.

Then I go to the mall, and it all goes away.
Awesome! I hope S turns out as independently minded, amusing, and brilliant as your cousin.
I'm sure she will be. Progressive parents usually beget progressive kids.

She also watches Colbert nightly.

But her mom is a total helicopter mom too who called 4 times that day-3 to see if we had arrived safe and once to wish her a good night.
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