Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Camping, and other things we'll laugh about later

This past weekend was our family's summer kickoff--which is something of an oxymoron considering that in WA, it is no where near summer, and we homeschool year-round anyhow, so ... what's to celebrate?

Anyhow, being the hearty souls we are (or thought we were), we've planned a camping trip each year about this time to revel in the not-quite summer weather and ensuing break. Simple enough, right?

Now, my husband and I are not idiots--at least not on paper. Dh has more degrees than you can shake a stick at (and one remaining student loan to prove it) and I, myself, have a couple of BAs under my belt. Too bad there really are some things that no one can teach you. Common sense being among the most valuable of those, obviously.

Our plan on Friday was simple: wake up, watch the first World Cup match, pack the kiddos into the car and journey up to our favorite camping spot, where we'd stay until Sunday afternoon. On our agenda was some quality time on the rocky seashore, s'mores over the campfire, a little fishing and a few trips out in our trusty canoe.

Unfortunately, our plans had started falling apart long before Friday morning. As mentioned earlier, I have been in the grips of a terrible fatigue for a couple of weeks. This has meant that keeping my sunny attitude has become more of a chore than usual, and keeping up with my daily responsibilities has been nearly impossible. I have been leaning quite heavily on the Lord, and He is certainly bringing me through. A camping trip, though, had started to sound like an exercise in terror. Not the best way to start out the festivities.

Also working against us was a particularly nasty intestinal virus that swept through our family Thursday night. Without being too graphic, let's just say that we knew that it was a good thing our campsite was near the public bathrooms; no doubt someone would need them, if things kept up as they were.

But still we soldiered on with our plan.

Friday morning dawned gray and gloomy. Frustrations seemed unusually high in the house, with my oldest two children being told to stay away from one another, period. DS4 was also in a foul mood, seemingly going out of his way to trip people who walked past and "accidentally" use other's names in ugly-sounding rhymes. By the time my dh lapsed into his Deutschland football-induced coma, I was pretty well certain that we'd be waiting another day before casting off to our camping trip. But wait! Maybe I forgot to say that out loud? Dh certainly didn't notice it, because as soon as the game was over, he flipped the t.v. off and ordered everyone to the van ... without noticing the red lasers coming from my eyes or the tears on the children's faces.

But on we went. I look back now and wonder why the Lord didn't just string a huge banner across the windshield of my van saying, "STAY HOME!!!"

I could tell you tales about this camping trip that would curl your hair. I could wax poetic for hours on the words that came out of dd8's mouth as she pouted and huffed, or the way that ds6 pushed his brother off a log on purpose and watched him fall three feet to the ground, or the way ds4 spun so fiercely that he nearly fell into the fire not once, not twice, but three times.

But I wouldn't want to scare you away from camping, so I won't go there. ;-)

At one point in the trip, I literally dropped to the ground laughing so that I would not cry. See, I know the children I saw this weekend, but they certainly were not my little brood. Oh, no--they belong in some twisted sitcom where the siblings bicker over things as if sticks meant life or death and the serving size of a marshmallow actually is indicative of a parent's love and affection. No other way around it, folks ... this weekend, my kids were B-R-A-T-S.

Needless to say, we left the campground early. At 9:30 Saturday night, dh and I officially hit critical mass and strapped the kids into the van, loaded our belongings and headed home. The kids cried and fussed and whined, acting as if they had been denied some essential experience and we were just being ogres.

As we pulled out of the park, dh and I looked into the backseat to see our three children with heads flopped over, mouths agape and eyes, blessedly, shut. The little demons had fallen asleep almost as soon as the engine was started. Left in their place were our beautiful little angels, who we hadn't seen in three days.

The ride home was peaceful. Dh and I whispered back and forth about the upcoming events of the week and what we needed to do when we got home. We had a giggle a minute, I tell you. Driving in the dark always has been one of our silliest times for some reason.

But one thing we didn't laugh about: the camping trip. Because while it will some day be fodder for some great tall tales, it really isn't funny ...yet.

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