Yesterday was our first ever family camping trip. We’d been planning it for a few months. Originally, we wanted to try it at a state park 5 minutes from our house. That way, if the kid-variables didn’t work out, we could bail and be home in no time. However, there is a burn ban in drought-plagued Texas and you can’t have a camp fire while camping. Well. What the hell kind of fun is that? Isn’t the camp fire the best part?
Fortunately, or awesome friends invited us to a camp-out at their amazing property on the San Marcos river. Swimming, grilling, giant sandbox: it sounded perfect. The kids were beyond excited. Well, Violet was. Graham didn’t really understand what was going on. And since he turned 2, he does nothing but whine and scream all. day. long. So it was with extreme trepidation that we embarked on this trip. Especially after all the time, energy and money spent planning, packing, cooking and buying equipment.
Sure enough, the second we arrived Graham started: “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” Whine Scream. Fix lunch. Whine Scream. Break up fights. Whine Scream. Fix snack. Whine Scream. Shove into swimsuit. Whine scream. Slather with sunscreen. Whine Scream. Fun! Swimming! Whine Scream. Fill sippy cups. Whine Scream. “No Daddy! I want Mommy!” Whine Scream. Change diaper. Scream scream scream scream scream scream. Zzzzzz.
I really really had to pee. But I held it for over an hour because I thought for sure if he got a good nap he’d be tolerable the rest of the afternoon. Ha.
After he woke up I ran, with him, to the port-a-potty and set him down. Scream scream scream scream scream scream scream scream. Dragged him back to camp, handed him a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. Quiet.
Meanwhile Violet had been having the time of her life. As she repeatedly told Rob, “This is the best day I EVER had!” She learned how to doggy paddle with the life jacket by herself. This is an amazing feat for the girl who always refused to do any more than splash around in a wading pool. The kid spent hours in the water. Rob had a blast with her, but got the brunt of my Graham-induced anxiety. Clearly not my best wife moment.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent either in the water or listening to screaming. At long last, after an extremely painful process, which I will not go into, we got the kids into their pajamas. They were ready for their campfire and Smores. This is what we’d all been waiting for.
Okay, so they didn’t eat the Smores, just the chocolate (and I don’t blame them. Smores. Yuck.) Meanwhile our friends had been working for two hours trying to get their kids to sleep. Another painful process. I thought our strategy would be to let Graham and Violet stay up and stare at the fire until they couldn’t keep their eyes open, then tuck them sleepily into their tent. And it actually went smoothly. They even let me leave the tent on a mission to get them cups of water to keep with them during the night.
Then the screaming started. Louder and louder and louder until a little piece of my hot, tired, frustrated, anxious brain went plink! and snapped. Next thing we knew the kids were strapped into their car seats and we were driving home at 10 p.m, leaving everything but our wallets behind. I will not get into gory details. But it was clearly not my best parenting moment. Or my best friend moment either.
Rob and Violet went back this morning to break down camp. Graham and I hung out and went to the movies. Now he’s napping. I am trying to figure out how we could’ve handled the whole situation better. Would they have gone to sleep if I had just stayed in the tent with them? No, it would’ve freaked Graham out. Separate tents? No, Violet was scared of the cricket sounds. Made them miss the evening camp fire so they could go to bed with the other kids? Maybe… Graham needs to scream every night for a few minutes before he passes out, so they could’ve all screamed together. More wine for the parents? Hmm…
It doesn’t matter. We are not going to try it again for a while. A long while. Still… it was worth a shot.