Our camping trip this last week was rather rough. It was hot, the kids were grumpy. I was grumpy, (although I was trying not to be). I secretly dubbed our camping grounds, The Puddle in a Frying Pan in Suburbia. After that unfortunate naming, it was sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy that I'd continuously feel a little edgy and parched. You'd think by this age I would have learned to control my thoughts a little better. Sheesh.
Like our skiing trips this winter, Fritz and I came home wondering whether we should just give up on the camping for another year or two. It's difficult to tease out the problems: is it just this particular trip? Are the kids too young? Is there some particular thing we need to do better? Or are we just parenting failures? (Somebody has to be, right?) We certainly got a lot of things better on this camping trip: we were better prepared. We managed to have a campfire; even though it was charcoal, not wood. We were more careful about enforcing bedtime. We packed plenty of tissues and pillows.
We were still exhausted and rather frustrated by the time we got home.
I don't know. I'd like to do more camping. I'd like it to be fun. It just feels like it takes such a Herculean effort – for something terribly fragile and easily trampled. As childless adults, it was often clearer when to cut our losses and when to soldier on. As a parent, I find it a lot more difficult to make a call. It's hard to find the sweet spot between rallying a child on and respecting the kid's right to his or her feelings. And sometimes, I, as the parent, just don't have much more Rally Juice left in me. I think the age of the children and the number of children also accounts for a lot of our difficulty. Sometimes the 6 year age spread of the children means the youngest is not ready for what the oldest wants to do, and the oldest is not content to wait for the youngest. The way this plays out is often so dynamic and difficult to address because all three kids are moving in different directions. One kid wants to go home, one kid wants to go the playground, the third kid wants to go swimming. One kid is willing to compromise, two are not. Then, within 30 seconds, two kids have changed their minds and have new request, while the third is still adamant, and then you pick direction, and the other two revolt.... It's just relentless.
I don't want to complain about it. But I want it to go away. But finding the key to making it go away? I don't know. I've got nothing. <Sigh>
To conclude this post on a positive note, here is the best piece of the camping trip: the boys washing and drying dishes. Mattias LOVED it and exclaimed, "I love this chore! I would do it all the time! Every day!"
That is NOT a request that our dishwasher (at home) should now break. Please.