Tuesday, June 1, 2010


What a day.

"You won't get anywhere in life by whining." I can't even count how many times I repeated that phrase today.

It was a day of practicing patience, and learning to be much more than I am. The day began with a bang as I instructed my own full hour and a half session. This week we have one of the preppiest, most elite primary schools in for the week and the children are quite a contrast to the Islander children we had last week - both in attitude and behavior. Most of these children have grown up in extremely wealthy families and have always had their way. By "helping" their children along a lot of parents have put their children at a disadvantage as they have never learned to persevere or to look after others before themselves. It's sad, and extremely frustrating. In the first group none of the children wanted to do anything, they complained about each game or challenge and when that didn't work they just gave up. Quickly losing patience I found myself standing in the stream having to push the kayaks to get them through the rocks and the current as only a few of them could get their kayaks through on their own. After an exhausting first session of feeling inadequate, as I am still learning as well, we moved into the next hour and a half session. The new group came with a whole set of new challenges. One girl sat in her kayak sobbing and occasionally screeching because she didn't want to be in the water at all. This was after she had paddled all the way upstream from the landing. I let her scream for a while then sent the rest of the group back downstream to practice paddling backwards. Managing everyone at once is not easy. I pulled alongside her and tried to have a firm, but encouraging talk with her, reassuring her she was fine and that I would paddle back with her. She had reached a state of near hysteria and there's a point where you realize all they really want is attention, and she had reached that point. It was all I could do to keep my cool and and be gracious. I have been that camper, I'm sure. Once I finally had her calmed down we headed back and I rounded all the kids up to unload the kayaks, which required me getting out of my kayak first - unassisted. The way the landing works is it's a cement ramp that goes straight down into the water. The cement is covered in muck, and at the very base of the ramp is two foot deep mud and eels...let's just say, it's not fun to fall in. And fall, I did. I lost my footing, scraped the right side of my body on the concrete while trying to keep my legs from sinking into the eel-muck. Frustrated, humiliated, soaking wet, and muddy I climbed out and hauled my kayak out of the water. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to sit with that girl and bawl my eyes out right along with her. A few deep breaths and I smiled saying, "Anyone else like to join me for a swim?" They laughed, but I was so disappointed in myself.

Good thing lunch was next on the agenda, I was able to have some time to get a grip. I gave myself a pep talk - yes you do begin talking to yourself when you live on your own. I straightened out my dwindling attitude and once I felt secure enough to talk to other human beings without snapping at them or collapsing in tears, I left the safe haven of my house to finish the day.

However, obstacles only seemed to surmount as the day wore on. Rats and spiders are in quite an abundance by the kayaks and while standing in front of a group instructing them on how to properly get into a kayak I had to squash a huge spider in my kayak without missing a beat. I also found myself sitting in urine someone had left in one of the kayaks, that was fun...and a fun odor to wear all day. The last group had a girl who constantly bullies her classmates and she and I had already had a heart-to-heart the day before in climbing and I wasn't looking forward to more confrontation. She pushes and shoves to get her way, she says vulgar things, and when spoken to she throws a full blown hissy fit complete with baby talk, growling, and screaming at the top of her lungs. You think I'm kidding, I wish I was. Luckily that particular group also contained my favorite camper, he's the cutest kid. He has long hair tied back and the biggest smile. He's always up for anything and everything, as brave as they come. He handles her bullying the best of all of them and works hard to be helpful even when it goes unnoticed. I quite like him. Some of them just have a way of creeping into your heart.

After the kayaking I was off to teach climbing and welcomed the break. But alas, even the climbing resulted in a wailing. One girl in particular would not get off the wall because she insisted she had to climb to the top. I had no problem with that, except that she also insisted she couldn't move either...so there we waited while she threw a fit on the wall. I was ever so grateful for the few kids who patiently waited it out with me and sacrificed their climbing time without complaining at all. They also helped me organize the harnesses afterwards and tie up the ropes. I wish I could meet their parents, shake their hands, and sincerely thank them for doing such a great job at parenting.

Scraped and bruised, still reeking of someone else's urine I trudged back to my house, thankful. Thankful because I had the entire day to think about all the ways this job is good for me. My job is to be a leader now and that requires initiative. I don't have someone telling me what to do all the time, it's my responsibility to figure it out myself and take charge. Those of you who know me, know that isn't usually my first instinct. Along with initiative I have to quickly get over fears and endure more than I am comfortable with. The rats, the spiders, the eels- I no longer have the luxury of avoiding them. Capsizing, wading, sore muscles, they are the "get to" part of the job description. No longer can I just kayak, or climb, but I have to be better than the people I instruct, to be well-equipped for my job. After-work classes and training, here I come. And goodness knows I'll be learning some patience...something I've always known I lack. I wouldn't have thought this was what I would end up doing after completing four years of Graphic Design...but I think it is exactly what I need right now. I think it has God's presence plastered all over it.

"The beautiful paradox of God is that He is consistent in nature, but completely unpredictable in what He does." {Graham Cook}


gabrielle said...

Oh my goodness. Eels and spiders and rats and screaming children? The Lord is certainly doing a transforming work in you! :)

Kate said...

Rats, Eels, Spiders..oh my! I'm sorry Grace!

Susan said...

oh my wordy...Grace! I'm so sorry! You are up for a challenge, but I know you will come out in the end someone much stronger then I.