Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy memories. Or something like that.

Chickadee wrote about making memories with her children today, and that got me thinking about the memories MY children will grow up with.

Now, Chickadee's post is full of wonderful, warm visions of happy childhoods spent finding natural wonders in the woods around their home. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? It is.

That's not what my children will remember.

My children will remember camping trips. The crunchy centipedes in the bathrooms, and the rain.

One time we went camping in Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC. It was a beautiful, warm May weekend. Our kids ranged in age from three to eleven. As usual, we had the two-room monstrous tent for the kids, and the small honeymoon cottage for Ben and I. We got everything set up, had dinner, enjoyed time around the fire with Ben's brother and wife who lived in the area. It promised to be a wonderful weekend.

In the middle of the night we heard the breeze whispering peacefully through the trees. After a while it was a bit more than a whisper, but because it was so warm, it was lovely. Then it became a little louder, and there was a distinct rumbling in the distance. Before we knew it, the lightning was flashing, thunder crashing, rain coming in sideways. But that was no problem, OUR tents were WATERPROOF. It said so right on the label. Nothing to do but stay in the tents and keep dry - these things blow over pretty quickly, right?

Wrong. We are the Sargents, and we never do ANYTHING halfway. EVER.

At some point, the two older kids made a beeline for the van, leaving the 3, 5 and 7 year olds in the tent in the midst of growing puddles. Ben and I tried vainly to tough it out, but finally decided it wasn't going to blow over. I felt like Noah's neighbors, watching the water rise around me. So in the middle of the driving rain and crashing thunder, we got up and starting cramming stuff in the van. Sleeping bags and pillows. Bags of clothes. Blankies and teddies. Children. Then came the part about rolling up the tents. Did you know that when tents get wet, the air doesn't come out of them? Even with the windows unzipped? We finally did get it all in - two adults, five children, all the stuff - in a Ford Aerostar, and not the extended version. The one that has 13 inches behind the back seat for stuff. Because we couldn't get the air out of the tents, there were huge dripping tent-bubbles hanging over the kids in the back seat, raining water on them as we drove. We made it to a hotel in Asheville, NC and when we opened the back of the van, and I am not exaggerating here, at least ten gallons of water literally poured out on our feet.

The next time we went camping was with my brother and sister-in-law (who had heard the previous story), and when we woke up in the morning to a light rain, I heard my sister-in-law say very loudly, "Jim, we are NEVER going camping with the Sargents again."

Clearly, we have a reputation.

So when we go camping next week (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment), you know what I'm doing? I'm renting a cabin. Oh, yes I am.

Be thankful~



Modlmy said...

ok so apparently we ARE the same person...I just blogged about camping in the rain too. You know what, though? Imagine the stories you get to tell Mike and Deb's kids about them abandoning us in the tent - especially three-year-old adorable Elijah...good times. Now THERE'S a role model, kids!

eleanor joyce said...

Hehe. I will NEVER go camping with you! Thanks for the tip on the mango tea. I've actually never tried it, so I'll look for it next time in in the store.