Thursday, August 28, 2014


When I was a kid, most family vacations were camping trips. Think "cheap, fun, easy to do". Mostly we stayed very local. Growing up in upstate NY, there were many state parks just a stone's throw from our house. Sometimes we'd travel an hour or two away, but usually, it was more like 15 minutes. But the magic of camping is that wherever you go, sleeping out in a tent can feel like a world away. and despite the occasional stone or stick that jabbed me in the side from under the tent, the plethora of mosquitos, the drips from the roof tent when it rained too hard, and in one memorable case the collapsing of the tent during a particularly hard storm, I still found camping absolutely magical.

My favorite part was the after-dinner bedtime read by the fire - my Dad always brought his collection of Sherlock Holmes and Uncle Wiggly (bizarre bedtime combo when I think about it now) and we would snuggle up in our smokie the bear sleeping bags and beg "just one more, just one more". Nostalgia aside, as a parent, I realize that for my parents, it might have been less than idyllic. 5 to a tent for a week and 3 meals a day on a 2 burner Coleman stove, with dishwater hauled from some distant hand pump probably got pretty old, pretty fast. Luckily, I was blissfully ignorant. 

Since T was born, I've thought on a few occasions about attempting a family camping trip. Every time, the idea just gives me shudders. I'm convinced that he would wake up at around 11 pm to pee and, delighted to find us a captive audience (in the worst sense of the word) spend the next 7 hours regaling us with Thomas the Train reenactments or endless questions that would go something like this:

 Taran: How deep is that lake?
Me/Joe: I'm not sure love.
Taran: Do you think it's like a 100 feet?
Me/Joe: Maybe like 10 or 20?
Taran: Or maybe a 100
Me/Joe: Maybe.....
Taran: Or maybe like 30 or 40. Could it be like 30 or 40?
Me/Joe: mmmmmmmm (drifting off to sleep)
Taran: Why is it called a lake?

 And on and on.

 So yeah, camping sounds pretty lousy right now. But that doesn't mean that Taran doesn't still ask us to go. A lot. So the other day, I managed to at least partially appease him by setting up our 2 person tent. In the front yard.

I felt kind of self conscious being right there, especially as we live  in a highly pedestrian-trafficked area. But Taran and Calliope thought it was absolutely the best.

 Taran built the two of them a nest, and dragged out some books and his pink princess microphone - because what is camping without a pink princess microphone.

And harmony reigned for almost ten whole minutes until Taran kept grabbing Cally by the back of her shirt and flinging her down into the nest. They thought this was a fantastic game. But I just kept waiting for her head to miss the pillow stack and go smashing into the hard ground. And as a general rule, I'd like Taran to not be in the habit of flipping his 15-month old sister around like a limp towel. I'm impressed by Cally's puppy-like pleasure in wrestling with Taran, and I'm happy to see them enjoying each others company, but I also get an anxious lump in the back of my throat at this kind of play. It's a very thin line between puppy love and over-aggressive rough-housing on Taran's part and that line is very easily crossed. I'm never sure where to draw the boundary when I know chaos is lurking just around the corner, but they are, in the moment at least, both having an uproariously good time.

 I definitely have this issue at play dates too. I read this article recently, and I see where they are coming from. I am certainly one of those people who only learned boundaries by testing them as a kid. But when I see Taran pinning another child to the ground, releasing them so they can begin to run away - a look of half-amusement, half terror on their face - and then shoving them from behind every few feet before taking a flying leap and tackling them back to the ground.... honestly? I feel positively ill and like an utter failure of a parent. In that moment, he reminds me of my cat on the hunt for a small rodent, taking pleasure in the prolonged kill. Toying with his food before he eats it.

In all fairness, lest you think I've forgotten, he's four, I fully understand that most four year olds are pretty uncivilized rapscallion. But, you know, he's MY uncivilized rapscallion so I'd like to do my best to make sure that playdates at my place don't turn into a terrifying cat-and-mouse game. Luckily for Taran, Calliope just pretty much adores him no matter what. And I guess lucky for her, most of the time he feels the same. It cracks me up when we walk through stores and Taran stops everyone to say, "That's my sister. She's 1. Isn't she cute?!" She sure is!

And just because I'm having fun with my camera lately, I'm throwing in a few extra pictures of other fleeting summer pleasures, watermelon and corn...

No comments:

Post a Comment