Intuition is an incredibly powerful tool that we have all been given. I tend to live my life based on intuition (to the dismay and disbelief of a lot of people in my life!) and it does me well. I've spent decades listening to it and learning to go with it. I'm getting better and better at it, but sometimes I screw up. Sometimes my insecurities, my doubts come into play and it is never a good outcome.
Take yesterday, for example. As many of my Facebook friends have heard, my almost-10-year-old son was scheduled to go to a Cubs leadership training camp this weekend. I didn't know a whole lot about it, but when it was offered to us as a free activity, it sounded like not a bad idea. When I found out that none of our leaders were going, however, I started to question whether is was a good idea or not. And after a few e-mails to the guy in charge I started to really doubt whether I wanted to take my son 1.5 hours from home and deposit him into the hands of strangers.
When the weather forecast promised chillingly cold temperatures, I thought on Thursday that maybe he wouldn't be going. I talked to another mom (of 6) who said she wouldn't send her son out to camp when it was -35C, my husband wasn't thrilled about it, and my son was happy to bail. But I was still questioning it. We had promised to drive another member out to camp and didn't want to leave them in the lurch. When I talked to his mom (who is a leader in Scouts Canada), she came up with some very good arguments for them to go. I also saw the facilities on a webpage and they looked pretty good. And instead of listening to my gut … my HEART, I listened to my doubts and to the voices of others and got him packed up and in the car and driving to Sylvan Lake.
The drive was miserable. At a certain temperature (below -30C or so), even on a clear night the exhaust causes fog and driving is scary. The car sounds different, rivers cause fog banks, and although some people speed like demons (as usual), others do 30km below the speed limit. There were lots of trucks on the road, too, and I got very flustered and frustrated. Add to that going to a camp I was not familiar with along roads that I've never driven, through a community that has WORSE snow clearing policy than our little town, and I was pretty strung out by the time we got to our turn-off where a semi was jack-knifed blocking our road. Here's the thing I've noticed - when I'm doing something that feels wrong, things seem to go wrong.
We took the required detour and arrived at the camp in a very long line-up of vehicles dropping off kids. So long, indeed, that we had to back up about 500m to the main road and wait for other cars to drop off their kids, get out and allow other cars in. We were supposed to be there at 7:30 - we weren't unloading kids until about 8:30, I'd say.
So we got in, unloaded all the stuff, got the kids into the hall, and it was just utter chaos - people yelling to get cars out of the road, rushing the parents out so other parents could get in, signing kids in - one kid was crying, other parents were taking their kids home, bags were inside, outside, boots were all over. Because it was so cold, they couldn't do any of the things they had intended to do outside and the kids were playing a game inside. We took our boots off to go in and sign up our child and the floor of the cafeteria building was so cold my feet hurt.
So I decided that I should have listened to my gut. I should have let the other parent drive her kid down and we should have stayed home, curled up and watched a movie in front of a fire at our house.
Instead, I had some Scout leader from Red Deer literally bullying me to try and get me to leave my son there. "They'll be fine, what is there to worry about, just leave and he'll be fine." My response: "I don't feel comfortable leaving my child here - and if I don't feel comfortable with it, I'm not going to do it." "Why? What could happen?" - and when I quizzed him about what was going on, he didn't know - he wasn't a leader at the camp - he wasn't involved and was just trusting that the people running it (who all seemed VERY young) knew what they were doing. I have to admit this guy was very much a bully to me, but when he heard my son actually say he didn't want to stay, then it was okay for us to go.
We packed his stuff back into the car, I made sure the other kid who came with us was under the care of a leader and would be introduced to other Cubs (since the other ones from our group were not yet there), and we made a break for it. But not before some very harsh 20-something leader was yelling that whoever owned the Prius HAD to move it RIGHT NOW!!!
Well, we boogied out of the place, but when we got to the main road, Son realized he didn't have his iPod. We went back, looked on the ground, I went back into the building … no one had handed one in yet. So tears (from son and me) all the way back to Red Deer (about 1/2 an hour) until we stopped at 9:30 for supper at Wendy's - husband and I had not had supper yet and son was ready to eat again.
Home after 11. Tired and emotionally exhausted.
This morning, the forecast at the camp was -38C with a windchill of -49C. Skin freezes in 5 minutes at that temperature and there was a wind chill warning. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY IN HELL that that camp should have gone with that kind of weather. It was ridiculous and I am beating myself up for even considering that it was okay - let alone the fact that I had such a bad feeling about it and still almost left him there.
I pray that all of those kids are okay - especially the one we dropped off. I did call his mom and tell him what was going on, but she was still fine with him staying. And for her and her son it was probably just fine, and he'll likely be safe. But for us it wasn't fine. For someone with anxiety, it is important to be rational but to also listen to inner voices (the problem is that the anxiety can sometimes interfere with the voices and make them bigger than they should be - and that's where the doubt comes in - is it an inner voice or anxiety?). I know my voices well enough that I should have listened.
This was a harsh lesson - but it reaffirms the fact that I need to go with my gut. Life just works better that way.
Don't get me wrong, I think Scouts Canada is a good organization. I'm not mad at the mom who talked me into going down, I'm not mad that they didn't cancel the camp (although I think they should have), I'm not even mad at the aggressive leader who tried to tell me to leave my son there. I'm mad at myself for going against my gut. I knew better.
For those of you who didn't see it on my Facebook account, we had the most amazing look at a true, full sundog yesterday (before the camp fiasco happened). Here you go: