It’s a fine surprise when you realize that having a child made you a better person. At first, it searches you and pulls out your metaphorical refrigerators and reveals some of the dirt and grime that has collected over the years. You don’t always feel cleaner, but you do feel as though you are being worked on, which beats the sensation of sitting around and watching your soul get fat.
I have always thought that I would be a good person if I could just camp. I thought that good people are not bored by nature and can sleep easily on complicated root systems. As Clara gets older, I’ve discovered contentment in abetting her discovery of the world—in, for instance, holding her hand as we walk a 1/4 of a mile in an hour, and this has made me desperately want to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and rub mosquito repellant on her arms.
Last night, we camped—in a tent—with our friends, the Piehs. I wish someone would model an experiment in artificial intelligence after the Pieh children and then let me have a couple clones in exchange for having such a great idea.
Clara and Bekah share a raisin on the kayak.
Aaron and Andrew enjoy the view.
Clara, and proof that there was a tent rather than, say, a comfy log cabin.
What’s car camping without watermelon?
Smiling face-off with Emily.
*****The Hidden Track******
If you’ve made it this far, then you deserve to know the truth.
The campout was a success, but only if we can define success as including the briefest of brief trips home from the hours of 3:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. after a small mix-up. I was under the impression that a) Clara would happily sleep in my sleeping bag with me or b) Clara would happily sleep in my sleeping bag without me or c) Clara would happily sleep. Two and half hours past her bedtime, I convinced Aaron to take Clara for a drive to get her to fall asleep. She tossed and turned and chaffed her face against the tent and
gnawed on me nursed for a few hours before Aaron made the mistake of blowing his nose. She decided then that she’d had enough pretend sleep and would instead prefer to cry.
Dark things happen at 3:30 a.m. It is the hour for which those who are not sleeping realize the night is lost. Unless you are a mother with a full bladder laying on the knuckle of a thick root in 42 degree weather in a tent with a baby who is about to cry inconsolably. Then, you wish the night had simply been lost.
It was twenty seconds after the nose blow and ten seconds after Clara’s subsequent first wail of the night that I turned to Aaron and said, “This isn’t working. I’m going home.” And I drove Clara thirty minutes home, laid her in her crib, ate a bran muffin, read three paragraphs from an article on Enron, and slept soundly for three hours. I brewed an extra mug of coffee for Aaron to make up for my tiny little temper tantrum and arrived back to the campsite by ten the next morning.