I’m not a camper. Although, for the first thirty years of my life, I was. I went camping all the time as a kid. The White Mountains, a few times up in Vermont, and almost every year from the time I was my oldest child’s age, I went to Hermit Island up in Maine.
I don’t like to camp. (I also hate birds, and my family had parrots and cockatoos for most of my childhood as well – but that’s another post…). I don’t like the bugs and the dirt, and when you combined the bugs, the dirt, and all the sheer work that goes into camping with a toddler who was incredibly resistant to change – well, it was easier just to skip the annual family trips.
But… time marches on. I’ve got three kids now, and none of them take naps or wear diapers. Vacations are expensive, and let’s face it, camping is cheaper than a hotel. Time outside, canoeing and hiking, exploring new places… there were too many advantages to not go. Plus my mother is enormously effective at guilt trips (anyone who thinks that Jewish mothers have a monopoly on this is just wrong – nobody can do guilt like my mom). The kids would LOVE it, just think about how fun it’ll be for them.
She was right. As much as I hate to admit it, she was totally right. My kids (mostly) loved it. Jessie had a rough patch (more on that later) on Saturday, but she adored going to Plymouth. She really got into the history, seeing the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock. In fact, we’ve decided to make this the summer of historical exploration. We’re planning day trips to Concord and Lexington, and into Boston. Sam, in particular, was as happy as I’ve ever seen him. He was just a happy, content boy. On his bike 24/7, totally relaxed and loved it. Julianna thrived on so much one on one time with her grandparents. It was so sweet, because she started just crawling up on their laps, and going for walks with my stepdad and snuggling with my mom next to the fire.
My Jessie was miserable on Saturday afternoon though. She’s prone to psychosomatic illnesses and injuries. Especially if there’s something bothering her, she’ll get sick to her stomach, or her head will start aching. Or her knee will hurt, or her hip will be sore. So I assumed it was just that she was a little out of sorts, not that she was actually physically sick. Even though she crawled into my lap and fell asleep when we were at the playground (which hasn’t happened in about three or four years). She wasn’t running a fever at all, and when she wasn’t sleeping or complaining, she was happy and bopping around. She curled up in a chair in front of the fire that night and fell asleep (another rare occurrence). I still thought she was fine. Until she woke up vomiting two hours later.
As luck would have it, she timed it perfectly. In that she got sick on the night that Marc was there. Marc is my champion puke cleaner-upper. And true to form, he totally handled the situation (with a little help from my sister, who was wandering around our campsite in the middle of the night for reasons I still don’t understand), cleaned it up, got the yucky bedding out of the tent, and we just tucked her into bed with me and the little kids. Marc slept in the car. Jessie woke up totally fine the next morning, and we were going home that night anyway, so it worked out in the end.
I’m going to camp more this summer. I think. I still hate camping. I still hate the bugs and the dirt, and there’s still a lot more work involved. But the kids love it, and I still have my mother’s voice in my head. Reminding me that the kids love it, and she did it for me when we were kids. I’m going to remember how blissful Sam was, and how much Jessie loved learning about the history. I’m going to think about Julie taking my stepdad’s hand and walking away from me without a second thought – and I’ll be packing the bags, and buying extra bug stuff.