EarthJeff: On the road with 18 Teenagers… Part II

To see Part I, click here.

Things are in order and we let the kids off the bus and most of the ladies head right for….. the gift shop so they can buy more stuff.  MORE?  We just got here….   Well, we get them out of there (with more bags in hand) and go get checked into the two condos that each hold 10 people.  For our group of 20.  With 16 ladies and 4 guys (including myself).  Seems to me that we need  a condo that holds 16 and another that holds 4.  Because I just know which chaperone is going to get the co-ed condo since I am one of those 4 males.  Oh, do I ever have a headache.  At least the room configuration has one room with just one bed.  This one is mine, y’all figure out where you are going to sleep.  I mean in which room….  Of course, all the beds are double beds and when the resort says the condo sleeps 10, they do not mean 10 beds.  They mean 10 places in beds for people to sleep.  Getting my drift here?  Girls will bunk up together.  Guys?  No way.  The one guy that wanted to flip me for the single room quickly learns that everything is not equal in a democracy.  This is going to be interesting…  They figure it out.

So I give them my rules, which are pretty straightforward (I am one of those low-maintenance chaperones).   No bruises.  No blood.  No bickering.  No flames.  Don’t do anything (and especially put it on Youtube) that will get me fired.  OK, enough rules, I am going to take a nap.  Oh…. And they can watch whatever they want or hook up the PS3, but I get the TV for the Tigers opener on Monday and the game Weds afternoon.  NOW it is nap time.  Kind of.  Private room is good, but 9 other loud people in a condo still generate some noise.  But at least if I lay down the headache will go away.

The kids go off to explore the place and a couple of the ladies start to cook spaghetti.  GOOD spaghetti, and really cooked such as real onions chopped up and real garlic ground up.  Not my system of browning the burger, draining it, and dumping in a jar of Ragu and calling it done.  So one thing I learned right then and there is that if you are with 6 teenage ladies, odds are at least one of them can cook.  “Mr. L, you ARE going to try my spaghetti, aren’t you”?  Ahhhhh…. YEAH.  Where are the plates?  And the chef just lit up when I complimented her cooking, which was nice because she is kind of shy and quiet.  You know the type.  Hey, I wasn’t just trying to be nice, either, it was good.

So, first night, guess which condo was the hang out place – until 4 AM, geez, I usually go to bed by 9:30 –  for the entire group?  I need my beauty sleep…. Badly…. This is going to be a long 4 days…  Plus I also quickly discovered that in any group there is always at least one person who will go turn the thermostat all the way up.  I am one of those people who are always hot.  To say I roasted that first night is a bit of an understatement.

Next morning, over a period of several hours (you know what I mean if you have ever had teenagers in the house) the kids get up and we want to do a quick morning meeting.  So everyone is sleepy-looking ….. pink bunny slippers…. Teddy bear pajamas… ladies all with head scarf of choice … and they decide to start playing “20 questions” with me (which happened the whole trip because I got a chance to get closer to them and they felt free to question me about stuff).  One girl saw me surveying the group and says “Mr L, do you understand about black women’s hair?  We have to wrap it at night.  White girls don’t, though, do they?”.  Before I can reply someone else says “Of course he understands our hair, he has a black girlfriend (which I got questions about all week… they loved asking me about my relationship)”.  So I say “Yes, I understand about your hair and that you have to wrap it at night and no, white girls don’t have to because the hair is not as prone to breaking”.  Another asks, “Mr L, do you hate that your girlfriend has to wear a head scarf at night because my mama’s boyfriend says it looks stupid?”  Jones is looking at me with this interesting look and waiting for me to answer.  I laughed and said “I think you ladies look lovely no matter what and appreciate what you have to go through to have nice hair.  I am just thankful I am a guy and get to have no-maintenance hair”.  Jones laughs, the girls all smile and I get to stop sweating.  At least for the moment.  As I said, they constantly asked about my relationship and were fascinated about a white man being with a black woman.  The more that they see these relationships the more that they will see them as normal.

At one point they all started talking about whether or not they would go out with someone of another color.  Interestingly, it seemed like most of the ladies would consider it.  Two of the three guys said that they would go out with a white girl.  And Jones, my fellow chaperone, has dated interracially as well.

There is a fabulous water park at the resort.  Even though it was pretty crowded, wow, what a great time we all had.  They did manage to trick Jones into standing under the big tower thing that suddenly dumps a ton of water.  Even though the big water slides were a blast and the favorite of kids…. I am an old man…. Yes, the lazy river was my favorite.  We had passes for the water park the whole time we were there and yes, we certainly spent a lot of time there.

So….. lazy river I was willing to do.  Zip line was another matter.  I have done a zip line before, been left dangling below a REALLY thin cable hooked up by a REALLY thin rope harness thing.  The kids looked at the zip line with eyes as big as saucers.  But we talked them all into trying it.  Even the shy, quiet girl who had a fear of heights.  She was so happy to have faced her fear, and we were so proud.  I got to be that person standing below holding everyone’s stuff and taking pictures.

Mountain tubing….  Outdoor pool and hot tub….. Everyone had such fun.  The entire time the kids conducted themselves as responsible, respectful, intelligent, well-spoken young adults.  It seemed to end way too soon.  I am so proud of those kids I would take them anywhere (Miami anyone?).  Yes, we turned a few heads.  Certainly I am happy that I was able to help give these kids this experience and it was as rewarding for me as I hope it was for them.  Affect change…..

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