I’ve been way too entertained around here to be bothered by posting on the blog (sorry! LOL!) – we have actually moved back to Thousand Trails Orlando (a week ago! hehehe!), and the drama here is a riot!
I’d been hearing on FB how anti-kid they are here at this particular park, and was actually pretty anxious to check-it out for myself. When we first got here a few weeks ago, we really didn’t encounter any friction; this time, we weren’t so lucky.
It all started when some of the teens thought that they might actually utilize the pool volleyball court during the park-slated-timeframe for their group (this was instituted after the teens were told they were not welcome to play ‘adult volleyball’ a couple of months ago). ‘Teen volleyball’ is scheduled in the pool, daily, from 11 to 1, and (what is now) ’senior volleyball’ from 1 to 3 – but the way that it always works is that no-one shows up for teen VB, and the seniors get their game going about 12.
On Saturday, at 11 am, 15 teens showed up to play water VB, and that didn’t bode well with some of the seniors that showed up at noon. Not well at all. My Eli (19), Beth (17), Jake (15), and Thomas (13) were there. I didn’t show up until about 12:15, and had intended on just popping in to take a few pictures and then going back to the RV to make sure everyone else had lunch. I never did end up leaving because about 5 minutes after I arrived, a ranger comes up to a nearby group of 3 seniors who were scowling at the kids from a corner. Grumpy Old Man #1 (further referred to as GOM1) says, “I called because there are 15 kids in this pool, and not 15 parents watching them”. So, being close by, I pointed out the other 3 (multi-child) parents sitting around watching, and mentioned that 4 of the kids were mine. He argued that I had just got there, so I pointed out Eli and informed GOM1 and said ranger that Eli was 19 – surely he can stand in as a chaperone for my group of teen children…and why hadn’t the GOM just asked the kids themselves about their parents??? I have to say, the park employee was fabulous. She politely listened, and then asked them what they wanted her to do. Of course they couldn’t say anything as no park rules were being broken….
After a few minutes of taking more pics, I walked back over to GOM1 -to kill him with kindness. I asked very kindly and politely if the kids had in any way been disrepectful to them or the VB stuff. He said, ‘oh, no. no.” I asked if he had heard a single swear word or any other disparaging remarks at all from the group (I am a totally mother bear when it comes to who my kids hang out with, and I would take every one of these kids home if I could! LOVE!) – I already knew his answer because I knew this group; well, everyone except ‘Bubba’- we’re still not sure where he came from! LOL! Of course GOM1 had to say no again. I told him that I was really sorry if the kids playing VB was messing up their schedule as I knew that they liked to get started early, to which he had to say the kids weren’t messing up the schedule (since it was the kids’ scheduled time, what else could he rationally say). -and I will point out that this was no feeble elderly man who was losing his senses; this was a active, healthy retired man who was just a down-right mean bully – and bullies are cowards – I had no qualms about confronting him.
We talked off and on for the next 45 minutes, right up until he retreated into the water! ROFL!!! I had the most fun with our exchange, but I don’t think that he liked it very well because he had to say no a lot and couldn’t seem to make me upset or angry
We talked about all sorts of interesting things – for instance,he was talking to one of the dad’s there, and not very nicely. When he made a remark about 11 kids in one RV being child abuse and that CPS should be called, I had to intervene (hehehe!); we are used to being talked about, so I really wasn’t surprised. I civilly and nicely approached him (had been taking a few pictures here and there) and said, ‘oh, I bet you are referring to MY family. But we only have 10 in our RV. Can I ask you why you think that’s child abuse?”
Me: “do you know me?” GOM1 – “no”.
Me: “do you know my kids?” GOM1 – “no”.
Me: “have you met my family?” GOM1 – “no”.
Me: “have you seen our rig?” GOM1 – “no”. (progressively timider)
and on, and on, and then I gave him a short and sweet speech about judging people you don’t even know, and he had to eat crow (hehehe!).
I put up with his analogy about his neighbor with 11 cats (wow. coincidence.) and how he hated to vacuum twice a day after his one. I asked him if he had to vacuum after, or feed, his neighbors ’11 cats’ to which he said no. We talked about the kids that he had seen climbing on the VB nets (by this point I didn’t believe a word he said, but went along), and asked him if they had been my kids. again, ‘no’. I heard about the group having to repair the VB net, and how the ‘noodle’ float boundary markers were bought by the group and didn’t belong to the park. I asked if the kids had been abusive to either the nets or the floats. ‘no’.
It wasn’t long before I parked myself right next to his chair and settled in for a nice, long, neighborly, chat
We had a marvelous talk (hehehe!) about judging each group of kids for their own actions – tho I don’t think that he really appreciated my analogy of “you judging these kids based on the actions of other kids is like me looking over and saying, ‘wow. look at that snowbird scowling at those kids – I bet all the retirees in this 850 site park are crotchety old grumps that hate kids also!” (and that crotchety ole grump was 3 chairs away and could plainly hear me. ) (seriously! don’t these people have kids and grands??? they would FREAK if others were treating their grandchildren like this!!!)
We talked about how it is crazy bizarre that nearly all these kids could drive, and some of them can vote and could even be deployed to Afghanistan to fight for the snowbirds’ freedom, but they couldn’t be in the water without their mommies??? …then I was told that even Eli shouldn’t be in there without supervision.?.?. ( I was told that FL state law states that 21 is an adult, course, that person also said she was a park employee (not knowing that the dad there really was a ranger at the park! ROFL! yeah, that was a little awkward!) (seriously – I couldn’t make this stuff up!) They stated how they were really worried for the safety of these kids – what if one of them got hit on the head by the ball??? When it came up that 2 of the boys were lifeguards, they had to drop that one.
We discussed how every family in that group makes a point to teach, encourage, and exhibit respect for elders, but that when the kids (or even us parents) come across such blatantly negative attitudes for no wrong-doing, that it was hard for any of us to want to be respectful.
It was suggested (by GOM3) that the kids move their VB time to 10:30 to 12:30 so then the kids ‘would have gotten out of the pool by the time we arrive then there wouldn’t be a conflict.’ I suggested, that since it hasn’t always warmed up by 10:30, that possibly the seniors could move their time to 1:30 to 3:30. That didn’t go over so well. LOL! And he kept saying that I could just fix it if the kids would just play earlier – cuz kids are more flexible and it would be much easier for them to alter their time as old people don’t accept change so well (YA THINK??? tho I would substitute defeat in this case). (OK, that one I had a hard time not laughing in his face about)
I even invited (with genuine desire) the GOM1 to visit my site and meet the fam and get a tour of our rig. I guess he’d had enough because he still hasn’t had the nerve to come visit even though I made it crystal clear which site we are in and that I really would like to show him around.
So, while we have been brought groceries (that used to make us feel weird, now we just accept them graciously because not one has been a humanitarian rescue effort; they are just cleaning out their fridges before they move and figure that someone here will like whatever it is! LOL! -besides, it’s a great way to get to see us up close ), we’ve been stopped and asked how many kids, and what our rig is like (not negative, just curious), and even how long we are staying so they can see us again, we have also been a thorn in the side of a few volleyball die-hards.
I even told GOM1 that we had not realized that the floats didn’t belong to the park, and that I would head out to Lowe’s that afternoon to purchase the stuff for the kids to make their own. He said that was silly. I looked him right in the eye and said, “you are right, that IS silly. But if that is a sore-spot for you, then I think that it needs to be done. I really don’t mind.” (and I really didn’t) He insisted that the group didn’t mind (but they really did. ).
When the kids finally exited the pool at 12:59 (maybe I should mention that that the order to stay until the very last minute was at the request of every teen’s father!-except maybe ’Bubba’, we’re not sure where he came from!), that man got up out of his chair at lightning speed and said that he was sorry but it was time for him to get in the pool!
The kids had a super-fabulous time, totally oblivious to the incredibly fun conversation that I was engaged in. Which is good because Eli and Jake would have been in the middle of it making sure that I was being treated properly. Eli looked over a lot, as he knew that this gentleman was really not happy they were there, but he said that since I was smiling all the time that he figured that we were having a nice conversation. -not necessarily pleasant, but I enjoyed it Tho it was keenly odd – I felt like I was reasoning with Peanut or Molly (which I seldom do).
I was so proud of the kids. Of course, a few times the ball was hit onto the deck of the pool, and if someone else out of the pool threw it in for them, the kids were super careful to say, ‘sorry about that! Thank You!’. But later, when I had the little girls down swimming, and a ball would be hit out, they would wait for a kid that was on deck to get it and give it back, only saying thank you about every 3rd time (NOT all the team members are grumps, just about a dozen sour-pusses that feed off each other). And when a senior stray ball would hit a kid on the head, they did NOT say a word. It was all very childish .
This has actually been a great teaching moment for my kids – we have talked about how these members must be going through some stressful times in their lives – maybe health issues, or family problems, or maybe a lack of God – that they would want to be so mean and hateful to others. We have all made a point to be very respectful (which does not mean doormat) and friendly, and cheerful towards them.
After the seniors were in the pool and busy with their long-awaited game, a sweet senior wife looked at me smiling, and with her thick southern drawl said, “you ain’t gonna convince them deary. These guys LIVE for their VB. This is our 5th year coming down here just for that.” Then we talked and laughed a bit at the silliness of it all, and then she shook her head and said that she was getting out of there. Then she and her girlfriend invited me to go out to lunch with them! LOL!
We were planning on leaving Monday (we STILL haven’t made it to the Everglades, but that is another story tho it does involve all these great teens), but we are having such a fabulous time that we are now staying until Wednesday at least. Personally, I love a challenge, or cause…thinking that Teen VB might just be a cause worth extending our reservations for!
So, if you are into fireworks, please feel free to join us at the activity pool, Monday morning at 11! (hehehe!)