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Should’ve Let Her Eat It

, , , | Friendly | December 7, 2020

Our geography classes in senior year had a couple of big excursions running that parents could opt to send their kids on. The school picked some really awesome places to go, and during the camps, we would get to learn while physically surrounded by the course’s material, win-win.

One year, we went on a week-long trip to Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island. Lady Elliot is a small island on the Great Barrier Reef, and while it’s only barely long enough for the light planes’ runway, there are heaps of things to do and see. Tourists flock there from around the world, and with a big communal dining hall, we met a lot of interesting people.

One little girl kept popping up randomly multiple times a day as our group was engaging in various activities on the tropical island. We were heading out snorkelling and the little girl went running by and slipped on some leaves. I helped her up and she dashed off without a sound. Leaving the dining hall, I saw her trip up the stairs. Again, I helped her up and asked if she was okay, as she had hit the floor rather hard with her elbow. She didn’t make a sound, but I got a fleeting smile as she dashed away.

The back of the hall had a couple of table tennis setups and our group found ourselves there most afternoons to relax and play a VERY weird version of table tennis. All surfaces were in play, including the people spectating, and this little girl would shyly scoot over to watch. She tripped again and went down into a loose drift of sand, so I plucked her from the sand and helped her dust as much as we could out of her hair. She smiled and grimaced in embarrassment before dashing off again.

These run-ins were adorable and I kind of figured she might be mute since I’d not heard her make a single sound, even when she bit it hard on the concrete one morning.

On our last day at Lady Elliot, we were leaving the dining hall and heading to our cabins to pack for the morning plane when, yet again, I saw this little girl. She was half-hiding behind a pillar and staring at me. Thinking this might be my last time seeing her, I approached, knelt down to her level, and said:

Me: “Hey there, hun. We are all leaving tomorrow. I won’t be around to help you up anymore. Be careful to keep both feet on the ground, yeah?”

And I gave her a big smile.

She grinned back, came out from behind the pillar, and declared, loud enough for everyone in the hall behind us to hear:

Little Girl: “You’re fat!

Then, she sprinted away. My friends laughed; I was in shock. Little brat! And people wonder why I tolerate children but don’t want any of my own.

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Cheesy But Effective

, , , , | Learning | December 5, 2020

We have a school trip to a campground when I am about ten years old. The girls are in two big tents, boys in two big tents, and there are two teachers and two teachers’ assistants in their own tents.

On the first night, we are being typical kids in tents with torches, playing games, trying to scare each other, and calling to the other tents, and the TAs and teachers come in a few times to tell us to go to sleep.

Around midnight, one of the TAs comes in with a box.

TA: “Do you want a midnight feast? Don’t let the others know! Be quiet!”

Us: *Whispering* “Yes!”

TA: “Here, but turn your torches off and be really quiet.”

She handed over a box of cheese sandwiches and, reminding us again to be really quiet, crept out. We all sat there munching our sandwiches and talking in whispers, and when we were done we all pretty much fell asleep straight away. She did this every night of the three-day trip, and we thought we were being SO sneaky!

A few years later, I was chatting with my mum and we were talking about the trip. She was friends with the TA. It turns out that the TA had gone into every tent with a box of sandwiches and the exact same story, and every tent thought they were getting a special treat! Cheese sandwiches were a stroke of genius, stodgy and filling, and after eating a few while sitting quietly we were practically guaranteed to start feeling sleepy.

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Slow And Steady Avoids The Wasps

, , , , | Learning | November 30, 2020

I am six or seven years old. For a few years, I go to a nature camp every summer. I like everything except the hikes, which I still hate later in life.

One day, before a hike:

Counselor: “We found a wasp nest on the trail we’re going to hike today. We’ll give you a warning before we enter that area, and we’ll have to walk past it very quietly.”

Since I’m not crazy about hikes, I always walk towards the back of the group of twenty to thirty campers and counselors. The counselor who is assigned to the back of the group decides that I should be striving to be up front. I am with the group and not holding us back, so each time she bothers me, I politely brush her off. I move up closer to the middle just so she will stop annoying me.

We eventually get to the area with the reported wasp nest and are told to walk slowly and quietly. Most campers are looking up trying to see the nest. Little do they know, they will not be able to see it. One girl at the front is walking normally until she puts her foot down and the ground starts buzzing. She has stepped on the hive. She and the four other people at the front are chased down the rest of the trail by a swarm of angry wasps.

I decide this is the perfect moment to find the counselor who wanted me up front.

Me: *Smugly* “I’m glad I didn’t go up front like you told me to!”

She glared at me but made no comment.

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What A Weird Trail To Go Down

, , , , , | Friendly | November 13, 2020

My daughter’s friend invites her to join her and her family at their cabin for the weekend. [Daughter] is thrilled; we don’t have a cabin, and this one is REALLY nice.

She leaves mid-afternoon on Friday and gets back Sunday afternoon, whereupon we have this conversation.

Me: “How was your weekend?”

Daughter: “Fine. Uh, is there anything to eat?”

Me: “Sure, there are lots of leftovers in the fridge. But dinner’s going to be in just an hour—”

Daughter: “Oh, I’ll eat dinner; don’t worry. I have to have something now, though. I’m starving.”

She opens a container of leftovers and starts eating ravenously.

Me: “Wow, why are you so hungry?” *Laughs* “Didn’t they feed you?”

Daughter: “…”

Me: “They did feed you, right?”

Daughter: “Well, sort of. We got there around dinnertime on Friday, and there was a big bag of trail mix on the kitchen table. I was told to help myself, which sure, I did. I love trail mix. Seven o’clock came and went, though, and so did eight. I quietly asked my friend about dinner, thinking maybe I could help make it, or something. She pointed at the trail mix and said, ‘That’s dinner.’”

Me: “You’re kidding.”

Daughter: “It gets better. There was nothing for breakfast or lunch the next day, either. If I wasn’t worried about appearing rude, I would have taken off to the nearest town to get something else to eat. Plus, I didn’t have a car. We drove up in my friend’s car, so I would have had to borrow hers.”

Me:All you got to eat all weekend was trail mix?”

Daughter: “Yup. And the weirdest thing is that my friend didn’t seem to think this was strange at all.”

To this day, I don’t get it. It wasn’t that the family lacked money, and if cooking was too much effort, my kid would have been happy with a bowl of cereal.

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The Gift Of Using Their Eyes

, , , , , | Learning | November 13, 2020

When I am sixteen, I am a counselor at a summer camp. I have twins in my group. Let’s call them John and James.

John and James are identical twins. They are the same height and weight, have the same friends, and play the same sports. No one can tell them apart. Except for me.

The twins enjoy messing with the counselors and find it funny when they can’t tell them apart. Every few days, some counselors try.

One of them is convinced they have slightly different eyes. She usually guesses wrong.

Another is convinced that John is half an inch taller than James. This is wrong also.

Every time we play, I get it right. I also always get their names right when I have to call out to one of them. It baffles everyone.

On the last day of camp, the director comes up to me.

Director: “I have to know. How can you tell John and James apart?”

Me: “There are very subtle differences between them. It’s hard to notice.”

She starts laughing.

Director: “Come on, [My Name]. Tell me.”

Me: “All right. But you can’t tell anyone.”

She closes the door to her office and runs back to her desk.

Director: “I promise I won’t tell.”

I start laughing.

Me: “[Director], I don’t have a gift. It’s not a magic trick. John wears black sneakers and a blue bathing suit. James wears red sneakers and a red bathing suit. That’s how I can tell them apart, even in the pool.”

The director stares and starts laughing. 

Director: “THAT’S IT?! This whole time I thought you had a gift!”

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