It’s been a long, crazy weekend here. Grateful for sun after three days of rain and the coolest spring I can recall since moving here, we kicked off the weekend with strawberry picking at one of my favorite farms. Saturday morning was a raucous game of soccer, or as close as can be had with a bunch of three-year-olds. And still drunk on blue sky and warm breezes, we came to realize that nothing would make the weekend more perfect than a night spent under open skies.
Really, there was no “we” in that realization. I have this idealist vision of camping, memories of my mom cooking a huge breakfast on a griddle while my dad helped me and my brother find worms and nightcrawlers for fishing. When I was a kid we spent a lot of time in campgrounds and took first our truck camper, and later Winnebago, all over the country. I’ve either blocked out the bad parts, or it was AWESOME. I dream of a pop-up camper; so far the furthest I’ve gotten is convincing my husband that sitting around a campfire and sleeping in a tent a few times a year won’t kill him.
Anyway we packed up Big Blue, got the dogs and kid in the car (J, at sixteen, was just way too cool for camping), and headed outside the city. Of course by the time we got there, set up camp, scavenged enough wood to start a fire, made dinner and made our way back and forth to the communal bathroom several times, T was so exhausted he was crying to go to bed even before making “fo fo’s” (marshmallows). As the fire started to burn out and the temperatures dipped, we noticed we didn’t have the tarp for the top of our tent. We huddled together on the air mattress that managed to spring a leak since the last time we used it, staring up at the stars through our unimpeded view. And finally, finally, the squirrels, deer, bears, mountain lions, and other guests stopped their partying long enough for me to fall asleep…only to wake and repeat the chaos of toddler-caring, fire-making, food-preparing and the rest of it.
By the time we packed up I was more than ready to go. T had been whining non-stop for nearly two hours, I found myself repeating and REPEATING simple directions such as “stop throwing rocks!” and “stay away from the fire, it’s hot!” and I wanted nothing more than to be home and the sweet solace of T’s naptime. And I’m sad to say that, while I strive to use kind words and toddler-level reasoning with him every day, by the time we got in the car my frustration and short temper were starting to spread like toxic mold.
We did make it home, an uneventful trip except for the ginormous spider I found crawling on my shirt (seriously, I almost died). A too-quick nap and T was awake and still acting up, incapable of listening out of shear exhaustion. But as I tried to get some of the laundry started and dishes washed and camping carnage put away, I kept passing him lying, quite peacefully, on the couch, watching a movie. And I recalled that it can wait, all of it. I have not doubt that pile of greasy pans will still be in the sink after he goes to bed, or even tomorrow morning. But for this moment, of T being three-and-a-few-months and just the two of us lying together, watching Toy Story, still smelling like campfire and sunshine, I have no such guarantee. So I took it, and he put his hand on my head and smiled, and life was good.