Whoever would have thought the Skytrain would be so much fun? (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson column: The best award is happy children

A weekend away at the BCYCNA awards

This past weekend my family braved B.C. Ferries and made our way over to the Big City.

I had been named a finalist for an industry award for outdoor recreation writing and the Citizen was a finalist in general excellence. We attended to awards gala.

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I’ll be blunt. I hate dressing up. I’m not good at donning a dress and shoes that aren’t sneakers and looking like a proper grown up. Hey, if it works for you, so be it. I’m happy you enjoy it. It’s just not me. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t feel confident. I much prefer sweatpants and a t-shirt and a sturdy pair of running shoes.

I bit the bullet this year, though, but only really for my kids. I’m from the Lower Mainland and most of my family still lives there. I wasn’t going to give up an opportunity for a work-sponsored trip home to visit. We don’t get over very often anymore and boy do my kids love their cousins.

(Plus, it meant a kid-less night out with my husband in a hotel room — just the third night away since we became parents almost five years ago.)

The downside: dressing up and pretending to enjoy it.

Obviously I had nothing suitable in my own closet but luckily my mom and sister did. They selected dresses for me to try on and I begrudgingly indulged them. To my shock, everything seemed to fit. Some looked better than others, of course, but my children were gobsmacked, telling me with every new look that I was beautiful. (They were probably just after treats.)

I picked the dress everyone seemed to agree on and that was that. That’s adulthood for you: doing what needs to be done, albeit through various states of discomfort.

Then came the texts from the friends of mine that knew what horrors I was enduring.

“Send me a picture!” said one.

I sent her a dark photo of the side of the dress hanging from a bookshelf.

Man, I’m funny, I thought to myself.

“I expect a dress and hair brushed picture tomorrow. WITH a smile,” wrote another.

So, I sent her a photo of me in a dress, WITH a smile, that I found in an old photo album at my sister’s from when I was about five years old.

I found that really funny.

“Take a pic in your dress,” messaged a third.

By then I was a couple of glasses of wine into the evening, and it was well after the banquet. So, I sent her a photo of the dress, but crumpled up on a chair in my hotel room.

“Woah!” she wrote. “The night is getting good!”

And it was.

I had received second place for my writing, which in my mind is better than first because I got recognized for my work but didn’t have to give an acceptance speech to 300 people while feeling like a fish out of water — or at least a fish trying to swim with its fins suppressed by a dress.

Not to mention, my husband and I got to watch a TV show that wasn’t animated all while laying on furniture we didn’t have morph out of “fort-mode” just to use. Plus, I was finally back in my sweatpants and t-shirt.

In truth, it was Sunday’s events that made Saturday’s dress discomfort worth it.

We picked up the kids from my mom’s that morning and took the Skytrain to the Lego store in Vancouver and back. The trek featured a tunnel underwater, a bridge across the Fraser River and a tunnel under Cambie Street. It featured a moving sidewalk and a giant revolving door, escalators, and a four-storey parking garage. We saw two (man-made) waterfalls and condo buildings the kids deemed to be skyscrapers and no fewer than five giant construction cranes.

To see the delight on my small town kids’ eyes during their big city adventures was worth having to get dressed up for an evening (and being ribbed about it) any day.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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