We took 2 of our grandchildren camping last week. My husband was on vacation and we'd been planning this for months. It too one postponement and two tries to get it done. The postponement was because Declan was still recovering from the flu. We could have set up camp that day – mowing, prepping, setting the tent, finding out the mountain pie cooker we bought was structurally deficient for my husband's cooking methods. But, my husband was on vacation and we painted the office and played video games instead.
So, on the day of our first attempt at camping, my husband mowed the clearing and I picked up groceries and the grandsons. The boys swam the afternoon away, struggling to remember the temporary “no splashing Granny's new patio and the men working on it” rule.
With the truck loaded up with the big stuff of camping – chairs, tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, coolers, etc., the boys set off for the clearing and unloaded. The fire was fed, the tent came out of its box for the first time, air mattresses were filled, sleeping bag zippers were fought with, and flashlights were distributed to all.
The sentence, “Don't do that to your brother” covered a myriad of activities of the 5 & 7 year old siblings. It was followed with:
- “Don't shine your flashlight in Granny's eyes.”
- "There isn't any electric over here for video games."
- "No, we're not going to have a tornado."
- “Put that flaming stick back in the fire.”
- “Why are you in Granddad’s truck?”
- “Keep your shoes outside the tent.”
- "Don't go in the tent with your shoes on.”
- “Take your shoes off first.”
- and “Yes you can have another cookie.”
At 7:50 I turned to my husband (with a queen sized, half inflated air mattress draped over my head at the front of his truck where the air pump was being powered by the battery) and said, “They want to go swimming. It's really hot out here. Let's order from the pizza shop, let them swim and if they suggest it... let's sleep in the house. I want air conditioning.”
“What about the mountain pies, the smores, the campfire?”
“We can do it another night. I'm too tired to camp.”
So... that's what we did. A couple nights later, after a threat of thunderstorms had passed and good weather was a sure thing, we camped. The boys and I were tired by 10:30. I told them stories of all the things we didn't have when I was a girl. The list and the memories made me feel as though my life started in the dark ages, but Drake was fascinated. He proudly carried the stories from one grandparent to the other, revealing that he knew all sorts of new secret information about these seemingly benign grandparents.
A short while later, Drake was out of the tent and chatting with Granddad at the campfire again. His brother followed but was back in his sleeping bag minutes later. I listened as they talked about dance moves. Knowing the uncontainable wiggly nature of my grandson and the unrestrained fun my husband expresses to music, I smiled at what was going on out at that campfire – just 500 feet from our house... where “normal” visits over years had not given a tenth in relationship building as these few days had.