Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weekends with Peter

Dear Web Log, I'm well aware it is minutes to Wednesday and this post is about the weekend, but I have been pecking at this thing since Sunday afternoon, and I WILL HIT PUBLISH!!

Peter spent the weekend with some pretty cool kids. All a little older than him, I am always wary when he goes off with new people with long surfer hair and bikinis. 

But these kids are all good students, good athletes, and good looking. They don't drink, or smoke, or swear; they don't even drink coffee or watch rated R movies. In fact, they are Mormon. 

Saturday morning their car pulled up blaring Taylor Swift (a teen car not blasting obscenity laden rap music is rare indeed),and headed east to where our highway dead ends into the Atlantic.
They spent most of the daylight hours hopping from beach to beach, surfing and drinking Mountain Dew. 

At one point one of the young gentleman asked a girl to prom by standing up four surf boards in the sand, each with a letter in wax: P R O M. 


As their skin finally begged  for relief from the salt and the sun, they headed off in carfuls to the Mormon owned ranch near their high school. Peter said it was like walking into some unknown Shangri-La, with a chlorinated swimming hole boasting water slides, rope swings, and rafts. Surrounded by live oaks and the palpable absence of the rest of the world, it was a Central Florida Mormon paradise.
  When a boy spotted the gator, pictured above, about five feet long, they all gathered around to watch him pounce on it and put it to sleep by rubbing its belly (not a myth, but still). Peter was absolutely mystified by this boldness, and by the apparent everydayness of it to these kids, none of them thinking anything of it aside from him.

They spent the rest of the night around a bonfire, being teenagers, enjoying themselves so much that his ride decided he was just going to camp out there for the night along with a bunch of others. Peter called us to bring him and another friend home, and as Obi and I pulled up, old, gross, eavesdropping parents into a teenage bonfire party, we were greeted politely by hands being waved like friendly shadows over the flames of the campfire. 

Peter was patted on the back by half a dozen kids, and half a dozen more called out to him, "See ya on Monday, Pete!" All friendly, unsullen voices. Rare. Sadly rare.  I will make absolutely no statement at this point about what in the world Mormons must be doing so well (other than Taylor Swift, gag. Sorry, after the whole Harry Styles thing...). 

Peter came home elated, and with a new pet, Sebastian. We have caught a dozen ghost crabs at the beach, but it took Group Teenage Think to bring one home as a pet. Apparently they dragged this poor thing all over the place, including Steak and Shake, where I am sure, Sebastian was greatly appreciated.

After staring at the crab for what must have been a crab-eternity, marveling over its alien-like resemblance to the District 9 creatures, Peter and Joseph hiked down to the volleyball pit at about midnight (are you kidding? Jude is far too lazy for that sort of thing) and filled a Rubbermaid container full of stolen sand for their stolen new roommate. I am the best mom. 

Now we have the neighborhood's latest attraction, and the kids toddler to teen keep hustling lines of schoolfellows through our house to get a glimpse of the sad prisoner, gasping as he eagerly devours my sea food cooking. Sadly, I appreciate Sebastian as the only member of the household to have full appreciation for my overcooked garlic lemon shrimp. He can stay until he stinks. 


  1. Gorgeous pictures, always. I was pondering the boys, remembering them at age 7-ish,standing around us munching on snacks at Arlington, Peter probably making an observation about the world in his hilarious voice. SO great about the Mormons. I would totally choose Mormon friends over the Catholic kids, who will inevitably drink, smoke, and hook up. What are those Mormons doing right?? And the two words that best describe you and Obi? 1. Old 2. Gross.

  2. I wonder about the Mormons, too. The best social media presence, kids who by all accounts are honestly this well-adjusted and aren't just wearing it like a cloak of invisibility, and a strong commitment to evangelization. I wonder if they'd be willing to do a sort of "information swap" with us Catholics? We could offer the Eucharist, and they could tell us the secrets of their family rearing skills.

    1. I agree with both of you on the Mormons, although I never knew it before moving here. One of the main things I think they do incredibly right would be hard to replicate in the Catholic context. That is having a community that goes beyond just sharing a belief system, but a way of life. They live a lifestyle with expectations, the adults and the children. The boys know they will serve a year on mission, they know they or their parents will never drink or smoke or watch violent films, and they support each other in this, and it is generally accepted by the outside world. Sad to say, but I have had many frank teenagers tell me, "Oh no, he doesn't dip tobacco, he's a Mormon." And no one would expect him to, either. Why could the same never be said for a Catholic teen? "What? No, you can be sure Johnny never even underage drinks because he's Catholic." Yeah. Right.

    2. I think you're right. Later Day Saints are pretty much centered in America, yes? So interacting with the culture at large is more a homogenous thing.

  3. You mean the rubbing an Alligator's belly and it falls asleep isn't just a myth! I totally thought it was!

    As far as Mormons go...well we know a lot of Mormons down here in FL. The law school is basically all Catholic or Mormon families. I think there are a couple factors involved....for one thing, in their church, community is EVERYTHING. They have so many opportunities to build community...and there is a huge pressure to conform and follow the laws, so a lot of "positive peer pressure." Plus, they have a lot of rules/practices (as far as dress, food storage and prep), and then of course they have rules against coffee, alcohol, etc. Plus, because their church is fairly small, there is a lot of conformity, which again helps with the positive peer pressure. They also do place a huge emphasis on family life...dinner together every night, homecooked meals, Sundays are a family day only, etc. I think all these practices which are taught in their church, make a difference.

    The families I've all known, are also very gentle in their least the moms I've seen, seem to be very patient and gentle with their kids. The moms tend to stay home as well and there is a real emphasis on the family.

    Plus, I think a big factor is that all Mormons basically follow all the teachings of their church and if they don't, there are serious repercussions (as far as loss of community, being ostracized). Unfortunately, the same can not be said of all Catholics (that they all follow all the teachings).

    I'm not sure if I'm making sense. All the Mormon families I know, I really, really like..and respect them greatly. However, there is also a "cult-like" sense to their church with the emphasis on conformity and community. But, again I really, really respect them and like them and they are all wonderful people.

  4. The pics of the crab are amazing! They look professional.

  5. He jumped a gator and put it to sleep? This is crazy! On another note: wish our catholic community could be as supportive as our catholic family. I do see this support online through bloggers and catholic outreach sites but not as much in every parish


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