Well, it got me to thinking, perhaps I oughta have a give-away. Anyone want a free chicken? I have 4...
Speaking nothing of give-aways, we just got back from our 15 hour camping trip. I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to take 4 little children camping (Kurt's....it was Kurt's....let's get him!) but I have to say, it was one of those life experiences that made me realize just how crazy my own parents really were. Matter of fact, I got about ten minutes into trying to get the kids to bed when I called my mom (yes, I took my cell phone) and asked her why they ever took us all camping. Her response? "We had a camper." Well, gee, that explains it.
WHY DID YOU OWN THE CAMPER IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?!
I will tell you why. Because they were a little off. Because people who camp are just a little off. (I know, because we just went camping, sort of.) You see, I must admit, until today, it didn't make sense to me why you pack up all your clothes, and toiletries and sleeping bags and pillows and extra blankets and food and utensils and games and toys and a tent to put it all in and then extras of all those things, just in case they should get soiled (which, they will) and for crying out loud, why not just stay home for goodness sake?! At least at home you don't have to un-pack it all!
At any rate, we got to the beach campground where Kurt had taken Aidan a few months back and realized that we had forgotten to bring the directions to set up the 8-person tent (and by tent I am referring to the fortress, complete with separate rooms, that we lived in for all of 8 hours. You know you bought a monstrous tent when you are sitting in it thinking of what you could do to warm it up a little...maybe an extra rocker over in that room next to the baby bed and a little fold out sofa in the entry area with a little table and chairs for game playing and we may even have room for the queen sized air mattress in the sleeping quarters....again, why not just stay home?)
After realizing I wasn't going to be much help holding a baby, I grabbed the first random stranger at the campsite adjacent to ours and asked if she'd like to hold a baby. (Thank God for bubbly babies and people wanting to be grandparents!) We then set forth to guessing how to correctly put the the tent up. After a few moments however, I realized I didn't know where Lily was and that was VERY BAD given that we were right on the beach! I started hollering for her and told Aidan and Madeline to go look for her when the kind neighbor holding Liam asked, "Is that her running around the other campsites with her pants off?"
I didn't even have to look. "Yup, that's her." And sure enough, there was Lily running wildly from campsite to campsite, pants-free and covered in black soot from the fire pit she must have been playing in. (We never did find her pants and those undies with the blackened crotch have seen better days for sure.)
We got the tent up, with the help of the local eagle scout who happened to be staying a campsite or two over and the husband of the Liam-holder. By this time it was getting dark and time for dinner prep. After Kurt started the fire, I realized the kids were sitting down wind from it and breathing in all that smoke. (Maybe this begins to explain why campers are a little off. It starts early: kids sitting happily in front of the smokey fire, breathing in all those toxins and well, they grow up to be campers too and it's just a vicious cycle apparently.) Kurt and I moved the table out of the wall of smoke and he got dinner ready while I made irritating comments about not having enough light and not bringing food for the baby and "Lily! Don't dump that dirt.....on the table....argh! It's all over everything! Kurt!" Because somehow, this is Kurt's fault. (And yes Kurt, you WERE in fact doing enough. I was just playing my inherited role a little too well. Sorry.)
That brings us to bedtime. Oh, there is no time like bedtime with 4 kids on a camping trip. Kurt had to run out for ice and I was on Liam (and kid) duty. I set up the pack-n-play in one of the side rooms, and got him fed and put down (not asleep mind you but at least he was quiet) by the time Kurt got back. However, the other three were a little crazy, running circles in the tent, squealing with glee and basically just being kids. I threatened to sell them to the local gypsies if they didn't settle down but unfettered, the energy just kept boiling over. This was made especially humorous by Lily's chimney sweep look (think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins) and she still refused to put pants on. After a couple trips to the bathroom and a few books, we got them to sleep, one by one. Not a single child would sleep inside their sleeping bag, Madeline refused to even get on hers and by midnight, Lily was so cold she went over to snuggle in between Aidan and Madeline, who awoke screaming at Lily to get off of her. Then, every ten minutes thereafter Madeline fussed about not having enough room. She changed places a half dozen times, told me she wanted to go home RIGHT NOW (it was then 2 a.m.) and finally settled at the foot of my sleeping bag for the remainder of the night. And I swear, I must have some princess blood in me because I KNOW I felt a pea under my bed...oh wait, that must have been that flipping rock under me.
By morning, Lily was inside my sleeping bag with me and I doubt I slept more than a few hours total. And I couldn't sit up or get out of the tent without looking like a 90 year old from the spasms in my lower back! And this is fun. Campers are seriously out of their minds!
After breakfast, and what must've been the tenth trip to take Lily to the bathroom (which only accomplished the task of stirring some deep seeded longing in me to own an RV instead of a tent...I could practically smell the fresh, hot coffee) we were talking about the day ahead and I realized, there was nothing to do. NOTHING! We would be sitting at the beach....doing nothing with 4 kids all day.
By 8 a.m., we were in the car headed home just so we could regroup. It was as the girls and I soaked in a hot bath that I realized just why people camp. It has nothing to do with the actual camping. Nothing to do with the tents and cool gadgets and gear and fires and roasting marshmallows and camp songs or any of that. Nothing to do with meeting other campers and experiencing peace by reconnecting with nature. Nope. It is all about coming home! It is all about remembering to appreciate all of the things we take for granted each and every day. I don't think a campsite has ever been taken down as fast as it was this afternoon once we realized we were not going to be doing another night this time around. And on the way home I found myself thinking, "Hey, that was kind of fun!"
And the chicks were just as thrilled to watch a movie while eating hot pizza and then exhaustedly stumble into their cozy beds, falling asleep faster than they ever have before, without so much as a hint of complaining.
We are SOOO going camping again!