Thursday, September 10, 2009

Miss Independent

March 8, 1983 Tuesday 19 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"I started packing today because I came home early from school (sick.) I packed everything on my dresser and everything in and on my desk. I took my desk out of my room and scooted my dresser over. Now my room is very big. I wish I could move now. I bought Chipper a little fluff for bed and new food and a thing that keeps his cage from smelling bad. He is very happy. Lara came over today. Well I must go so, bye Ophelia."

I'm struck by how responsible Jennifer was at this age. She came home from school and spent the day at home alone. She packed her things, moved furniture and shopped at the pet store. She took very good care of her hamster, Chipper. Jennifer was lucky to have any pets in Foster City. Her father didn't want them and he didn't help her care for them. The only thing he did do was toilet bowl train her cat, Cocoa!!! And that was because he couldn't stand the litter box (so logical!!).

March 10, 1983 Thursday 17 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I had medium homework. Chipper is running around in his ball right now. Muffin, Cocoa and Chipper went to the vet today and got a clean bill of health. Lara came too and ate dinner with us. I wrote Mom and Becky a letter. I can not wait to move to Alaska. It is going to be so fun. I am moving in 17 days. Yaaaaa!!!!!! Tomorrow is the final exam in Language Arts. Well I must sign off so, bye Ophelia. Your Excited Friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer took Cocoa and Chipper to the vet because they were flying on the plane to Alaska. Yes, the hamster too! Chipper would be flying coach in a small carrier designed to fit under Jennifer's seat on the plane. Cocoa was riding in cargo. Muffin was staying behind with Daniel. Jennifer was impressed that the airline would accommodate her hamster.

When you take your animals to the vet and they are all given a clean bill of health--you don't expect what is going to happen next. Within 40 days of this entry, two of these animals will be dead.

Jennifer, Chipper and Muffin. Muffin belonged to the family before Cocoa and Chipper came along. What a good dog to learn to get along with a cat and a hamster!

March 12, 1983 Saturday 15 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Lara went home around 1:00pm. The rest of the day was boring. Mom called and we talked awhile. I am really going to miss Muffin. We went to Sizzler for dinner--boring. I hope things in Alaska turn out okay. I hope Dad, Dan and Muffin are okay. I must go, so bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer is beginning to think a little more about what she is leaving behind.

March 13, 1983 Sunday 14 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I rode Jewel in my lesson. Carol had me jump with no stirrups. It was fun. I packed about 6 boxes today and took down almost everything off my walls. In my room in Alaska, there is a ledge on the wall that runs under the window, a perfect place for Cocoa and Pumpkin to sit. The last week I'm here I don't have to go to school. Well it's late. I gotta go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer's school was on a trimester system. Her second trimester was just ending. She would have a week off before moving. There was no reason for Jennifer to move mid-year. Why her parents didn't encourage her to wait until summer, she'll never know. Maybe Jennifer didn't want to wait, but it would have been easier if she had.

Starting a new school toward the end of the year should not be done unless there is no choice in the matter--especially when it includes moving to a new state and moving in with a new dad and brother. New dads and brothers are not interchangeable with old dads and brothers. Jennifer's stress level is about to go through the roof!

Pumpkin was Jeff and Joel's cat. This blended family would include blended pets as well! Jennifer's nervous cat, Cocoa, was also in store for quite an adjustment.

Jennifer and Cocoa
Jennifer's mom let Jennifer pick out her own kitten when she was ten years old. She couldn't resist this cute little calico. She still remembers the joy of that day!

March 14, 1983 Monday 13 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I got my plane ticket. I am taking care of Kitty again. Lara came over. I have two final tests tomorrow. This week is exam week. I studied hard for the finals. It's 11:00pm. Chipper is running in his ball. I gotta go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."


March 15, 1983 Tuesday 12 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I took two final exams. I think I did good on them. I have no homework. I took care of Kitty before and after school. I called Mom. I am going to pack a little so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. I love you."

Jennifer went to bed around 11:00pm and still managed to feed and care for Kitty before school! It's March in California--odds are it's still dark when she's leaving her house, or at least dawn. The weather is cold (for Northern Cal--maybe in the 40's in the morning). She had to ride her bike at least a half mile or so to the apartment building where Kitty lived, and then ride another half mile or so to school. Not far on a bike, but far enough when it's not even your pet you're feeding!

I have an eleven year old boy. He is responsible in bursts. On a daily basis, I don't see him caring for himself, his pets and other people's pets this well. Of course, he has a full-time mom to "remind" him. When no one is around to check on you, I guess you just get 'er done on your own!

I like this spunky little girl who really doesn't complain about anything! However, all this will soon change. In Alaska, she will be checked on and given new responsibilities--Jennifer is not as amendable to ideas or chores which she does not choose herself!

What were your responsibilities as a child? Were you a self-starter or did you have to be reminded?

1 comment:

  1. I am the oldest of eight kids. I did a TON of chores and never thought a thing of it. I often would pack a picnic, throw all the little ones in a wagon and go off exploring the fields and creek near our home for HOURS!! My mom must have LOVED that. I remember when I went away from college I was very anxious that I wasn't there to protect and care for the kids, now that I'm a mom I find that quite odd.


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