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Sunday, June 3, 2012

On Shabbona Lake, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and managing your child’s idle time

I wanted one specific thing for my 40th birthday weekend (Memorial Day) and that was to spend it camping with my husband and children. We picked Shabbona Lake State Park a great little fishing lake 82 miles west of Chicago. Granted my older son said the camping “was so urban” with lots of trailers packed into the 100 campsites, the facilities were clean, beautifully nestled along the lake under a canopy of trees and the fishing was great.

We caught lots of bluegills, small-mouthed bass and one lake trout. And in addition to fish we saw all kinds of wildlife; geese, ducks, swans, toads, raccoons and one skunk.

My parents used to camp with a huge group of friends every Memorial Day at Camp Mather, about 45 miles south of San Francisco off Highway 1. I’m happy to carry on the camping tradition in my family as tent camping is such a fun way to survive for a few days. At least I think so!

After returning from camping, my birthday week continued with a lovely dinner for two at Bistro Bordeaux on Davis St. (review forthcoming), bubbly on the beach with my new friend Anne and a movie date to see Moonrise Kingdom with my other new friend Kindon.

Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc.) latest movie and you should go see it because Hollywood is full of cookie-cutter movies where no director dare show his/her personality and Anderson is in every second of this movie. And you should go see Moonrise Kingdom if you’ve ever; gone camping, been a boy scout, fallen in love, used binoculars, talked to a lawyer, chopped down a tree, etc.

As my birthday week came to a close, I reflected on all the wonderful ways I celebrated turning 40 and the major theme this birthday (as opposed to my 21st birthday) was my parenting style. Let me break it down for you.

The camping trip to Shabbona Lake was all about carrying on the tradition of car camping from my grandmother’s generation (who grew up camping my Mount Lassen in Northern California) to my generation. Car camping and fishing are things I want my children to be familiar with as part of their family heritage and also because it’s healthy to sleep outside.

Grown Up Activities
Date night with my husband and time for girlfriends is something I want my children to see me try at. I want my children to see that I work at loving their father and enjoy celebrating our love together at a fancy French restaurant. And evenings spent with my girlfriends is also important because I want my children to understand that my world is bigger than them, that I have friends like they do and that although we don’t have Nerf Gun Fights, we do like to go see movies and drink wine on the beach.

Idle Time
Like Anderson’s entourage of adventurous, curious and super cool 1965-style children, at 40, I want children just like them all. I want bold, strong, adventurous, smart, crafty, brave, self-reliant children. And how do you raise children like that? According to Anderson, you create idle time full of music and the outdoors. This year and possibly this decade, I’m going to become the parent Wes Anderson would be, should he have children. I’m going to create more environments where my children experience lots of idle time (no electronics) outside. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Our one-year anniversary moving to Evanston from El Paso is June 10 and when we were scanning options for the city where we would raise our boys during the middle and high school years, access to nature was a big focus. Evanston is bordered by tons of access to the lake where you can fish and kayak and is only 75 miles from the nearest campsite.

I’m thrilled that as I turned 40, so many experiences crystallized in a positive way; new friends, parenting style, my marriage, access to nature, etc. I’m excited about this decade and I’m super excited to be somebody’s mother, now that I’ve an idea of the type of children I want to help raise. Thanks Wes.


  1. You forgot to add "confident" to your list of qualities under your Idle Time section! I wish more people recognized just how important it is to get children outside and away from technology. You're doing great, and your kids are going to grow up wonderfully with such a smart mama. Rock on!

  2. Thanks for the awesome comment Rebecca and for reading Evanston Newbie! If I was Oprah or Ellen, I'd send you a new car right now! When it comes to my parenting, I spend so much time second guessing and fretting over my decisions that I rarely pull back and just celebrate who my children are. With Moonrise Kingdom, you really get to know two 7th graders, which is so rare in film these days, and it made me really think about who my children are and what they might be like in 7th grade. Barring any major crisis, I'm hoping they rock!