Last weekend we went camping.
I am not one of nature’s campers. I like to have a soft mattress, a hot shower, and brewed coffee in the morning. I have skeeter syndrome so I really hate bugs. Dampness pisses me off, rain makes me stabby if my feet get wet.
Camping is not my thing.
However! We have three boys. And a 95-pound Labrador Retriever. Hotels are out unless we put the poor pooch in a kennel. And he *hates* all kennels, except for one we found that is a two-hour round trip from our house. That one, he loves. But it’s not worth the driving for an overnight stay, and I can’t say no to this face:
So! Camping. In a tent, to clarify. We never go more than an hour’s drive from home, and so far we’ve only done overnights. The camping itself is the destination, and the boys love it. Sleeping outside! Hot dogs on sticks! FIRE!! They love it and I don’t hate it, so we went on a few trips last summer and it was pleasant.
Our first trip this year, I was nervous – because of this face, which I also can’t say no to:
Where would he sleep? How would I nurse in a sleeping bag? What if he was carried away by mosquitoes? What if he cried all night?
None of those things happened, although it was a more stressful night than I’d hoped. Michael and the boys slept in the big tent with the dog. I had a wee little 2-man dome tent for the baby and me. Poor G – he had a hard time falling asleep. I couldn’t just lay him down; he’s rolling all over the place these days, and rolling off the air mattress onto the ground wasn’t going to be much fun. I couldn’t hold him in my arms and let him sleep, because he’s sleeping so well in the crib these days that he can’t sleep anywhere else.
Eventually I resorted to putting him in the carseat and driving off the campground for ten minutes until he conked out. Yay! for car camping! You backwoods people can suck it.
The first part of the night was kind of fun, because I haven’t co-slept with G for a while and cuddling up with him felt good… but then he kept waking. And waking. AND WAKING. And after singing every 70s tune I could think of I just gave up, stuck a boob in his mouth, and prayed for sleep.
Which we did get! Until about 4AM… when I heard this from the adjoining tent:
Harry: Dad? Dad! DAAAD!
Michael: What is it, buddy?
Harry: Turn on the light! I need to go pee!
There followed much rustling, and frantic whispering. And then the dog got out of the tent when Harry did, so then I heard Michael trying to call the dog, but as we’ve discussed many times, Salty loves Michael, but he listens to me.
Eventually everyone got back and settled down again, although I did hear more whispering for quite some time. And then the baby woke up again. And then because we are The Fucking Idiots Who Camp During Solstice Week, the sky started to lighten.
I heard the lonely howl of a coyote. I heard an owl hooting. I heard birdsong, just one at first, then more and more until there was a chorus of avian voices greeting the rosy glory of a summer’s dawn… and all I could think was “holy cow, nature’s majesty is SO LOUD.”
Baby G woke up for the day at 4:40AM. Mindful of quiet hours and the rest of my family sleeping peacefully only feet away, I scooped him up and went for a walk. The dog nosed his way out of the main tent – again – so I took him, too. I had the rare pleasure of using an outhouse while wearing a baby in a Bjorn and keeping a dog from running off. The mosquitoes were the size of helicopters and we were the only idiots out wandering around. Eventually I gave it up as a bad job and returned to our campsite, where I took a series of “trapped in a van with a baby & a dog waiting for quiet hours to end” photos:
Once everyone woke up, we actually had fun. We put G down on a blanket, where he rolled around happily and ate sticks. We took turns keeping the kids out of trouble and packing up the tents, and made it home by lunchtime.
We’re going again in a few weeks. And I’m sure it’ll be fun, again.
But damn…. this camping thing is HARD.