all the kids

all the kids

Friday, July 30, 2010

Camptown Races

When my husband is busy doing his commercial, it's like I lose all sense and make plans I would never make. Going camping at 9 at night, for example.
Bad planning at its best. Then add a baby and a dog, the dark and a steep and trecherous hill littered with glass to walk down in flip flops while carrying a stroller. These are the highlights.

I took the kids camping in Azusa (still have no idea where it is, I think it's in the Congo). Half tank of gas, driving up into the mountains, it's only 8 at night, the sun is going down, the dog is drooling on Nathan's leg, we never have taken the dog anywhere, is this a bad idea?

We have to meet the cousins, they're only in town a few more weeks, and we must do everything they want to do because these are called MEMORIES. I can't miss any of them. So we go camping with the cousins' dad, who is Camper Man, while we are camper weaklings. They don't meet us up there until after 8 - 8 is a time with a baby when you are looking for the bed, happy for The Bed, looking forward to the oceans of time between 8 and 9 before you fall asleep, when everything seems again free and possible.

I have given up that time, I see, alas, as Camper Dad points out the sheer cliff we must scale down to camp by the river. I see now that unloading car, going down hill, putting up tent, easily an hour. Baby is already starting to deconstruct. I too, feel my life shredding, as we are linked, and I am bigger and must carry her.

The dog runs ahead, barking at Latin Americans or anyone he can tag in his racist manner, while I apologize, although I'm more worried that the sun is going down and I am hefting, like I said, a baby and a flimsy stroller down a luge tunnel lit by one tiny penlight flashlight held erratically by an 8 year old. After this we cross a quarry of giant chunks of rock and find the other camper ladies huddled around piles of tents that are not being put together by indian guides. In fact, it appears I am the indian guide.

Camper Dad Girlfriend gamely sees with some brief maternal compassion the baby situation and starts setting up the tent. I set the baby down on an already dirty rolled sleeping bag while the kids entertain her by shining the flashlight on various bits of broken beer bottles and throwing rocks.

The river rushes by next to us, no help because it has no arms. Beautiful, and loud as an industrial air conditioner. But tent. Poles, holes, stringing through, tent pops up. Some other guys stagger down, already laughing and drinking. This is not the child matinee crowd, for sure. There's a reason I'm a control freak. As the tent goes up and I put the sleeping bag in, I can tell the fire will be built at 11, marshmallows at 1 and sleep around 3, followed by a nice restful wake time at 5 when the sun comes back up.

I start crying as the kids swarm me with their bags and I spray bug spray on them like I'm prepping them for the oven. "It'll be okay tomorrow," Nathan says, feeling bad that I'm feeling bad, and I'm feeling bad that I'm feeling bad. "Camping is just hard with a baby," I manage to say, and choke in the rest of my tiredness. I'm old, dude.

When the baby is asleep, and the dog is found (he had gone running back to the car, the only sensible one, hoping to get the hell out of here), I do see the humor of the situation. There was never going to be any sleep. And it is beautiful, that's an actual star up there. Almost a handful of them. There's a little 9 yr old friend of the cousins who I swear is a man. She laughs loudly and gravelly, like Brenda Vacarro. She is a loud flower.

The kids drop off to sleep hours later, and the adults drop off to sleep, the drunken one lays directly on the rocks and sleeps like an angel. Hank the dog and I are awake. As always on any camping trip, I hear everyone sleeping. I hear every cricket. I know I'm supposed to relax, to love the outdoors. I'm supposed to feel nature. I try to feel nature, but I don't like loud nature. I don't like sleeping with my face directly on gravel.
I take a vicodin left over from my hand surgery. Now I am a drug addict, AND a bad camper. But this does not make me sleep. Finally I let Hank in the tent and at around 4, I think I fall asleep. The kids wake up an hour later. Yay.
The only good thing: smores over a campfire at 6 am. Swimming in the freezing river with the dog, at 8 a.m. Thinking, if I only slept outside more, I'd be used to it. The best moment ever - watching Lilly's shoe float downstream. Bye bye. The kids see-sawing on a giant floating log. Walking to the car, the glorious car, hours later, knowing that now we get to leave.

When we get home, we get a tent at KMart and put in the yard. We play in it, but we don't sleep in it. Are you kidding? The best time ever, is crawling in bed at night, all those covers, our wonderful house, the reason houses were built, for bedtime.
Maybe camping will be easier when the baby is bigger. But then, who's gonna want to go camping?