Have you ever had this great idea for an activity or outing with your kids that you think is the best idea and everyone would have so much fun, including you. But when the activity takes place, it turns out to be the most horrible idea, you immediately regret your decision, and you think to yourself, “what in the world was I thinking?!?” Well when this happens, ask yourself this: What was the situation when this seemingly wonderful idea came to me? I’ll give you a firsthand example of what I mean.
This week we have had our 2 nephews stay with us for a fun summer vacation for them and for our kids as well. They are 9 and 7 years old…boys. So in our house this week are 5 boys ages 9,7,6,3, and 1. Well there is one decision that might have seemed like a good idea at the time but I guarantee was made under controlled circumstances, by my wife. Another decision that was made this week was to set up our tent in the backward and have the older boys sleep outside for a night; also an idea from my wife. But this decision was also made in a controlled environment during a controlled time period. What I mean by this is that this decision was made after dinner, kids in bed, in the house while sitting on the couch in our living room. So in other words: our bellies were full, we were well rested, the kids were not annoying us or super hyper but asleep, and we were on comfortable furniture in the air conditioning. So pretty much the exact opposite of camping outside in a tent. Of course, tent camping with the children sounds like a great idea at the time. My suggestion is this: Before making a decision like tent camping, put yourself as close as you can in that situation and then consider if it is a good idea. Like for tent camping, lock yourself in a sauna, line the floor with rocks, wrap yourself in a sleeping bag, give 3 boys under ten 2 pounds of sugar each, put them on top of you and then turn out the lights. Now make the decision if tent camping is a good idea.
Here is the story:
We plan to set up the tent and camp outside on Wednesday night, so in the afternoon we all go outside to set up the tent.
The first inclination that this might not be the best idea is that while we set up the tent, the temperature reaches 95 degrees outside. And quick correction, I said we, I meant me. Because halfway through putting the poles into place, the boys thought it was too hot so they went inside.
Also, I haven’t mowed the grass in 2 weeks due to the heat of the day and the day before, the boys played outside in the water tearing up the grass with the slip and slide and soaking the grass making it un-mowable. After the tent is set up, our plan is to rent a movie and watch it in the tent. But because it was so hot outside, we decide to watch it inside in the air conditioning. So we watch Rango and the kids love it.
At this point it is 8:00 and time for bed for the 2 younger boys. It was at this point when my wife thinks, “Let’s keep this party going and have the older boys sleep outside tonight. And not only that, lets rent another movie for them to watch. And not only that, you get to watch the movie and sleep outside with them too since I have to stay in the house with the little kids.” So she goes out to rent movie #2 and I gather all the sleeping bags to take outside.
I take our computer outside to watch the movie in the tent. So the 3 boys and I load into the tent and turn the movie on. At this point it is 9:15. I am thinking “ok, I know it’s late but that means we could be asleep by the end of the movie at 11:15.” But at 9:45 I call Lindsey from the tent to inform her that we have been watching previews for the last half an hour! You may be asking, “Why didn’t you skip them?” Fact is I tried and the computer messed up and we had to start them over again, so therefore we had to watch them through, all 30 minutes of them. So now, it will be midnight when the movie is over and we can go to sleep. While the movie plays, I go inside to get drinks and stay hydrated because the tent is reaching 3 digit temperatures. And not only that but when it became too dark to see outside, our dog decided to poop in the yard somewhere, and it was now wafting into the tent and the poop stench began to mix with the sweaty boy smell. When inside, I inform my wife of the “fun” we are having to which she begins to laugh and pee her pants at my misery. So what drinks did I get? Why sugar-loaded juice drinks of course. Why not at 10:30 at night? I thought it would go well with the cookies and popcorn they had during their first movie.
The movie ended around 11:30 (thanks Yogi Bear for being short) and the boys were now to giddy and sugar high to sleep. So let the arm fart contest commence! I learned some valuable arm fart techniques from my 7 year old nephew Will, that it only works if your arm pit is real sweaty in which they all were, so it was quite a concert at 11:30 at night. So I make the declaration at 11:45: “if you are all still awake at midnight, we are going inside to sleep.” Within 5 minutes, they were all sleeping…except me. Because I didn’t mow the grass, my space in the tent had random grass clumps sporadically placed around my body so nowhere I moved was comfortable. Not to mention the fact, that I did not have a sleeping bag but a small comforter. I highly recommend using a comforter to wrap yourself in when it is 90+ degrees outside. I finally fell to sleep out of pure exhaustion at 12:45 no matter what I was sleeping on. And the next day, wouldn’t you know it everyone woke up at 6:15 in the morning with the morning light. Now I know they can all have careers as famers when they get older because they are on the same sleep schedule.
So next time you have some grandiose plan like tent camping with your children in the dead of summer “for the memories” try to make yourself as uncomfortable as possible like sleeping on a bed of nails in a giant oven, and then reconsider your “good idea.” Or afterward you might be saying “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Now I’m off to plan some “good ideas” for my wife,
The Joyful and Tired Dad