After spending two summers in Connecticut, my daughter tried a new riding camp in Vermont this year. The cross-country course was better. The food was worse. The cabins were better. The activities were worse. The other girls?
"BESTEST EVER!!!!!! BFFS 4EVER 4LIFE!!!!!! OMG!!!! THEY ARE MY BESTIES!!!!!"
But, all good things come to an end, and a three-week eventing program is no exception. Parents arrived Saturday, watched their daughters compete in a three-phase show, stayed overnight nearby while the girls had an awards banquet, and before you could say "I'm gonna miss you so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o much," it was all over. Back to their separate lives in their separate states.
But, not to worry. This is 2011 after all. The girls became instantaneous Facebook friends. And after much texting, "poking," instant messaging and picture-posting, it was unanimously decided that a camp reunion was in order.
Several of my daughter's aforementioned "besties" live in the greater New York City area (New Jersey and Westchester county), so, the big apple would be the ideal place to meet. Although we're up in Massachusetts, I'm always game for a trip to my hometown. Grandma's bed and breakfast was available, so we set the date and a whirlwind of planning commenced.
Anyone who knows me will assure you that I am the queen of theme. So, I took it upon myself to come up with some ideas for this shindig.
"What if you all meet at the Central Park carousel?" I asked.
Blank stare. I kept going. "Horses? Y'know, horses? You guys all love horses?"
"Oh-h-h, that's a go-oo-od idea. Yeah. Uh-huh. I'll think about it." my daughter answered. From experience, I recognized this as "Lamest idea ever, Mom. I don't think so."
"Too bad the "Horse" exhibit isn't at the Museum of Natural History anymore," I continued.
"No offense, Mom ..." she began.
Time out. When my daughter says "No offense, Mom ..." I steel myself for something offensive. It reminds me of the line "With all due respect ..." as used in The Sopranos. Whenever one of the underlings started a statement, "With all due respect ..." you always knew they were about to disrespect Tony. And, Tony didn't react well to disrespect if you remember. Blood, guts, gore ... not well at all. Suffice it to say that my daughter is just lucky I'm a copywriter and not a mafia boss.
"No offense, Mom. But I don't think they're gonna want to hang in a museum."
I realized she was probably right, and promised to keep thinking. Meanwhile, one of her friends (who is clearly a better party planner than I am!), came up with an inspired and exacting itinerary. It went something like this:
12:30 Arrive Times Square, Meet at Forever 21
12:30 - 1:15 Shop at Forever 21
1:15 Walk to Abercrombie
1:30 - 2:15 Shop at Abercrombie
2:15 Frozen Yogurt Break
2:30 Walk to American Eagle Outfitters
2:45 - 3:30 Shop at American Eagle Outfitters
3:30 Walk to Italian Restaurant on 46th Street
4:00 Early Dinner Reservation
6:00 (Tearful) Good-bye
The girls were thrilled. Me? Not so much.
"Okay," I said. "So you and your friends are going to rendezvous in the greatest city in the world and you're going to spend your time in ... mall stores?"
She grinned and nodded enthusiastically.
Best advice I ever heard back when she was going through the terrible twos? "Choose your battles." This field trip of tween consumerism was not a battle I chose to choose. "Fine," I said.
At the appointed hour, we arrived at that historic New York landmark, Forever 21. There was much screaming and hugging and flinging one's tweenage self into each other's arms as the girls reunited. The moms introduced ourselves and wondered aloud at our daughters' enthusiasm and their determination to make this all happen.
The afternoon was a huge success. BESTEST DAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only did each participant acquire new tee shirts and socks and jewelry and makeovers (Sephora happens to be right next to Forever 21 - OMG! Can you believe it?), but they had photos taken with a real ... wait for it, wait for it ... Abercrombie model!
"He should pull his pants up," I responded when my daughter proudly displayed her picture that evening at my mother's.
"Good one Mom," she chuckled. "Hellooo? He's an Ab-er-crom-bie model." She put the picture in her pocket and headed into the kitchen to hunt for snacks.
Famed New York Times reporter Meyer Berger once said, "Each man reads his own meaning into New York." Clearly, each mother-daughter team does too. For me, New York will always mean Broadway theatre and magnificent museums and incredible people-watching and long walks in Central Park. I've shared so many of these things with my daughter already. But, as she grows up, she'll find her own reasons to love the city so nice, they named it twice.
Spending the BESTEST DAY EVER with a crew of beloved friends isn't a bad place to start.