Monday, October 11, 2010

Camping Out, or Why We Missed the Picnic

It began at twilight, with a strange request from three-year-old Puck, normally as big a fire bug as his other siblings, huge lover of roasting marshmallows over the fire and tossing in whatever he was allowed to toss.

"I want to go inside and sleep."


We had rented a rustic cabin in the woods for the night, to enjoy nature's splendor without too much hassle. The kids had taken off exploring in the woods around us, discovered a fabulous frog pond, led us to it on a beautiful path full of trees beginning to turn fall colors and birds singing. We had just finished roasting our dinner over the flames and the night had hardly begun, so we coaxed and entertained and convinced the little guy to stay outside with us awhile longer. It was a lovely night, as it grew darker, the stars became brighter and brighter in the sky.

"splut" went Puck right beside the picnic table.

'Looked like all of his dinner had returned to haunt us. (The implications of a huge pile of regurgitated hot dog, chips and apples on the ground in the dark with five children and two adults I will leave to your imagination.)

Pierre thought it might have been a reaction to something he ate, so when he wanted chocolate, he gave it to him. I, however, took him into the cabin when he repeated over and over his desire to go to bed. He was in my arms and we were barely in the door when the rest of his dinner and dessert made their appearance. I scuttled to the bathroom and stuck his head in the sink. He recoiled and the first wall was struck. We swerved over to the toilet, but as he arched back from that option as well, the second wall got it. My clothes, his clothes, floors in two get the idea. Poor baby was crying and crying, I wanted to cry too, but someone had to remain an adult here. Don't ask me how I got it cleaned up while carrying him around, I don't remember. The rest of the night was a hoot...or rather a hurl-fest.

At some point deep in the night, when both Puck and Pierre were deep asleep for a minute, I heard a bear. Nothing else could explain the heavy noises coming from the other side of the wall, noises of furniture being moved around; squeaking, rumbling, scratching. Never mind that we have no bears this far south, or that there was no furniture outside to move around, nothing else could explain this repetitive, loud noise. A human would have been more quiet, a raccoon is not as heavy, a possum is too small. What to do? I was not going to wake the guys, they'd wake the whole cabin. Would the ranger come if I called him? Did my cell phone even have reception out in the middle of nowhere? Maybe owning a gun did have its benefits, crud. I crept out of bed and went to confront whatever was threatening the safety of my family.

I did not get far. The light was showing under the bathroom door. I entered to find a sick-looking Alienor repeatedly scratching at and unrolling the bath tissue roll attached to the wall; scritch, scratch, bat, hit, squeak, creak, you know the sound. She looked at me miserably and announced that she was going to throw up. She went back to bed, with a pan for company. Ten minutes later she leaned over the edge of the bed and...It was non-stop from then on. It was so bad it was funny. We made bad jokes and laughed in between searching for more recipients, emptying pans and cleaning up kids, what else are you going to do? Aragorn and Arthur, unaffected by upset tummies, would roll over and groan in the other room, or yell out something in their semi-sleep, usually "turn off the light." Lily was very sympathetic to her younger siblings, usually hollering something akin to; "This is so gross. I am going to throw up too, I am not kidding!" The low point was when it seemed that the night had already gone on forever and the clock only read 2:30am. Daylight was never so welcome.

The next morning I scrubbed and scoured and cleaned that little cabin to within an inch of its rustic life. It smelled nice like Pine Sol, if you're into that perfume, and was sparkling. I wanted to make extra sure that the next night's occupants were disturbed by neither germs nor dirt, mission accomplished, I hope.

Needless to state our plans for the rest of the weekend were off. No picnic on friends' beautiful land (sorry friends), no astronomy classes late at night, just back home by 11am the next day and lots of sleep and cuddles. Happy Monday to you, may next weekend be a more peaceful one for all involved!


  1. Oh my gosh! This is almost funny...sort of. Well, it would be if you wouldn't have had to be an adult and take care of it afterwards. Sometime this parenthood thing really stinks. I hope your family will all be feeling better soon.

  2. Oh my! I hope all of you are feeling fine now and are well rested! While your fine writing made for some chuckles I also grimmaced plenty in sympathy. Don't ask me who the beneficiary of my sympathy was. I felt decided empathy with some and sympathy for someone else.... LOL

    Hugs across the digital world.

  3. Thanks, friends! I realized we still were not over this when I begged off the overnight part of a heavenly camping trip last weekend. Some wonderful friends even lit the bonfire and set up the mattresses in the tent for us...I just couldn't do it.

    Turned out to be a perfect evening, even (or especially for the adults), without the sleepover part. Another time.


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