Once upon a time, there lived a family. And this foursome lived in a house with four walls, and they slept in beds with cushions and blankets and adequate back support. They ate food cooked on the stove or sometimes zapped in the microwave, and they lived with the support of this marvelous invention called electricity.
But then the mama got it in her head that it’d be a really, really good idea to head to the middle of the forest for the weekend. They’d sleep in sleeping bags! On the ground! In tents! They’d cook their meals with the help of a miniature propane tank and they’d roast marshmallows as if their lives depended on it. They’d get dirty – really, really dirty – and they’d not take showers or baths for two days, because why should they?
They’d be camping, after all.
But the best part about the story is that they’d get by with a little help from their friends.
They’d band together with five other families, and if the English Teacher Formerly Known as the Writer of this Blog did the math correctly, she’d count 26 humans altogether: 12 grown-ups and 14 children. They’d divide and conquer when it came to meals and when it came to booze, when it came to firewood and when it came to rallying the troops.
When the raccoons would decide at six in the morning, Day Two, to cunningly use their little black and white fingers to pry open the aforementioned foursome’s crate of dry goods, the rest of the troops would rally. The cowboy of the group, John Wayne, would try his hardest to scare off the unwanted varmints, while the remaining families would offer hot chocolate and crackers and gummy bears in holy sacrifice: We’re in this together, they’d say. What’s mine is yours – here, have another chocolate-covered pretzel.
They’d hike together, and two such characters who shall not be named (but who sometimes find residence on this blog as the HBH/Hot Black Husband and Cancan) would get lost on the trails for three hours. But funny thing is, they’d return to their people more refreshed than ever before, and they’d both remember that excursion as the highlight of their weekend.
And oh, how these friends would laugh.
They’d play Farkle on the picnic tables, and Bocce Ball on the lawn, and they’d brave the grotesquely stinky outhouse together, the one they swore housed a brown recluse, cunningly crafted webbed home mere inches from unsuspecting ass.
They’d watch their babies play together and fight together and say their I’m sorry’s before beginning the brave cycle all over again. They’d watch the one year olds – for there were three of them on this trip – discover the pure joy of dirt, rolling in it and pouring it over their heads and tasting it, just in case, just because …it’s dirt.
Then, when one of these one year olds would decide that it’d be a Super Duper Good Idea and Loads and Loads of Fun to wake up at four in the morning, the mama would get it in her head that she’d rock her squirming child to sleep. But why sleep when there are tents to party like a rockstar in, and air mattresses to bounce on, and big brothers to climb over in the wee hours of the morning? Why sleep when your parents are RIGHT THERE WITH YOU, and did anyone ever notice how totally fun they are? And most of all, why sleep when everyone else in their right Pacific Standard Time mind is sleeping?
So then the mama – the mysterious, charming, gorgeous character whose identity we all must be dying to know – would decide to bravely take her baby back to the child’s tent, the tent he slept so soundly in the night before, the tent that led her to believe that she birthed naturally camp-worthy children. But then the cycle would inevitably repeat itself: bounce on Thermarest, tackle Mama, raise fingers in the air and wave ’em around like you just don’t care.
Until you do care.
And then said angelic, I-just-wanna-hang-out-with-my-bodacious-mama baby would decide that he actually is tired, and that being awake in the four o’clock hour is actually not so fun.
So he would then begin to scream.
At the top of his lungs.
In the middle of the Great Outdoors, lest you forget where this adventuresome story is taking place.
The dada, who’s only four feet away and hasn’t fallen back asleep (mostly because his wife won’t let him – don’t you dare!) would put on his super cape. While the mama would try hushing and shushing and rocking and cooing, techniques that didn’t work on the child when he was two months old, let alone now, the father would put on his shoes and his sweatshirt and his hat, and grab the keys to the car.
Then the baby and the Baby Daddy would fall happily ever after asleep – at tilted seventy degree angle – until the blessed eight o’clock hour. And the mama would get the air mattress and the big ol’ double sleeping bag all to herself, amen.
As luck would have it, when all the families arise in the morning, and seek to discover the culprit to those early morning screams, there’s actually a whole lot of grace.
Because they’re your people, and you’re their people.
They love you, even if your child wakes up the entire campground, and they’re for you, even when the raccoons plunder all those snacks you bought at Target. When it’s time to leave for the weekend, you give one another smelly, stinky, I-haven’t-showered-for-two-days hugs, and you say, I really can’t wait to do this again.
And you mean it.
You really, really mean it.
Because you didn’t have to put an end to your conversations, but you got to enter into time together, time unrestricted, time met in hallowed listening and extended story time, too.
And isn’t that what camping’s all about?
We LOVED camping this weekend, truly. So, are you a camper? What horror stories and lovely stories and memorable stories do you have to share? Do tell!0