Monday, April 14, 2014

Did I Stay Or Did I Go?

In response to Kris: I went camping with the Boy Scouts.

I am reminded of one of my favorite exchanges in Little Women, one of my favorite movies.

Laurie: What do you suppose those girls do all day?
Mr. Brooke: Over the mysteries of female life is drawn a veil, best left undisturbed.

True of adolescent boys as well.

Yes, there are some aspects of Boy Scout bonding that women in general and mothers specifically really don't need to know about. Burping. Lack of hygiene. Dish washing or lack there of. Danger. The list could go on and on.

That being said, I had a great time.


I kept the menu simple.

The weather was beautiful.

The Port-o-lets were cleaners than any I have ever encountered.  (In my Army days, I encountered plenty).

I saw just one snake, from a distance, not poisonous.

My friend and her daughter came along so I wasn't the only mother-interloper.

A particularly industrious dad made rosemary chicken, wild rice, and sautéed veggies for dinner and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I may be investing in a Dutch oven sometime soon. Quite inspiring.

We sat around the table enjoying our dessert as John, Ainsley, and Hope -- outfitted in headlamps -- caught toad after toad after toad. I thought about what we would have been doing at home. Watching a movie, probably. How neat to be outside watching the little people run free.

Then it was time to turn in, and here things went sour.

Up to my late twenties, early thirties, I could sleep on a rock. Not like a rock, on a rock. Seriously. When I was tired, I went to sleep; I stayed asleep. Suddenly all that began to change. I became picky about pillows and mattresses and light and noise. If I woke up, I couldn't go back to sleep. I tried various sleep aids. I got rid of my alarm clock because the light kept me up.

I thought I was prepared Saturday. Dave and I had abandoned air mattresses for cots that don't leak. I recently invested in firmer pillows and ditched all the marginal ones. I brought Tylenol PM.

Dave set up our tent, and we prepared to move in. It was then I discovered our pillows were AWOL. I had neglected an old Army adage that has many, many applications to family life: They only do what the boss checks.

I have learned many a lesson in regards to this valuable principle. You say, "Pack a winter coat." Best you get a visual on that "winter coat" before you cross the Mason Dixon Line because you may picture a thick, insulated puffer jacket, and they just may be thinking of this:

Well, this works just fine in Augusta, Georgia, pretty much any year except 2014, but if you're headed for Detroit? Not quite up to snuff.

They only do what the boss checks.

When you say, "Grab four pillows," a nameless family member just might hear, "Don't forget the nutty bars, the Rick Reardon novel you're reading, and that can of Pringles over there wah, wah, wah, wah, wah."

No pillows. I swallowed my Tylenol PM hoping it would over-ride the missing pillow.

Ainsley, John, and I got into our little tent. I had a cot. Ainsley had  a mini-cot. John had a sleeping mat. We tossed and turned, and John wanted the mat, and Ainsley wanted the mini-cot, and so we switched, but before I knew it, Ainsley had abandoned the mini-cot to sleep with me. In a cot.

Ainsley was asleep in about five seconds, and John was sawing logs shortly thereafter while I tossed and attempted to turn. And I must have started to dose when suddenly John was unhappy with his Spiderman sleeping bag and for reasons I can not recall, I traded blankets with him, and so there I was climbing into a Spiderman sleeping bag made for a six-year-old which meant it reached just north of my belly button, and it was getting cold, but that was okay because Ainsley, the human hot water bottle, was plastered against me. In a cot.

Eventually -- it was a long, long eventually -- I, too, fell asleep.

Suddenly I heard, "Mama, Mama, Mama!"

It was around 1:00 am. Tim couldn't fall sleep and wanted some melatonin. I directed him to the van and attempted to fall asleep once again.

Suddenly I heard, "Mama, Mama, Mama!"

It was around 3:00 am. It was John. He had to go to the bathroom. I unzipped the tent and directed him to the woods and attempted to fall asleep once again.

Suddenly I heard, "Mama, Mama, Mama!"

It was around 5:00 am. It was Ainsley. She had to go to the bathroom. I found my shoes and told her I'd take her to the port-o-let.

"No, thank you, Mama," she told me. "I'll wait until morning."

Why? Whhhhhhy? In the name of mercy, whhhhhhhhhy?

I was delirious from lack of sleep and aching like I hadn't ached since I was 39 weeks pregnant with Ainsley. My sciatic nerves were shot. As I watched rosy-fingered dawn rising up over the lake, I grimly determined to do two things: caffeinate and head home.

I love being in the woods.


Call me the eternal optimist, but I remain convinced there's a way to do this and avoid the whole Bataan Death March experience. Even without Ainsley, the cot wasn't cutting it. My hips can't take it. Do we go back to air mattresses? Switch from Tylenol PM to Ambien?

Groupon ran a special on pop-up campers not long ago. Maybe that's the ticket.

Do you camp? Do enjoy camping? Tell me how.


Kris said...

I'm really interested in the whole cot discussion. We usually use air mattresses, but Jim and I recently decided we're getting too "old" to be climbing up and down off the floor of the tent. My BIL has the KING of all cots, with a plushy mattress on top of it, so we were thinking of something like that. What kind of cot did you buy? Maybe the air mattress on top of the cot? I love to camp - mostly because it gets all my people away from all things electronic. We do a big camping trip every year to the same place with the same families. Even my teenagers would never dream of missing it.

Kelly Dolin said...

A cushy cot might work. We have Coleman cots we bought at Sports Authority.

Getting up off the air mattress is a pain. Our bigger issue is that all air mattresses we've bought (from cheap to pricey) leak. The best ones have been twin mattresses from Target. Somehow the larger ones have even more leakage issues than the twins.

I saw a cool cot at Cabella's that had a hanging attachment for things like keys and cell phones. I think it even had a a cup holder. Nice.

Worth investing in good ones since you really put them to use.

We're going to upgrade our sleeping bags. I may buy one LL Bean bag a year for the next year. We've tried cheaper ones, but zippers bust, the lining tears, etc.

Kris said...

Yes - we have the same experience with the air mattresses. I just keep replacing them when they leak - it's just a "cost" of camping. I saw that one from Cabella - I may make the leap. I don't mind sleeping on the air mattress - it's comfortable enough. I would just like to bee off the floor. But I don't want to trade that for being uncomfortable.

Tina said...

Cots are too firm or sag like a hammock. Air mattresses are kinder to aging bodies, though annoying to get in and out of on the floor. A friend put her twin mattress on her cot, which I would like to try. When we used to take the high school girls camping some of them would bring aero beds, air mattresses at regular bed heights. I always envied them.

Kelly Dolin said...

The aero beds are a great idea but very pricey. I am wary of sinking more money into things that leak. Has anyone had luck with patching an air mattress?

Getting off the floor is more difficult as I near fifty. I've really noticed this in my catechism classes. Don't make me sit on the floor. Ugh.