My parents were big believers in camping. Each summer, they consulted maps, weather patterns, calendars, and the neighbor’s availability to water our many macrame-potted ferns. They made plans, and the five of us loaded up into my dad’s green Scout International named Homer, complete with a CB to converse with truckers to get the 10-4 on speed traps and non-existent traffic. The back seats were folded down and Homer was packed with tents, sleeping bags, food, and fire-pit safe pots. My brothers, our dog, and I were left with two feet on top of it all to travel on.
I remember those camping trips as magical and as a frightening pain in the ass. The whole cooking on a fire thing, pooping in the woods, and bathing in the river were freeing for a couple of days. Then, it got old, as did the musty tent smell that seemed to follow us for weeks upon returning home, regardless of the drains in regular showers and sleeping bags airing out on the porch.
There was the year that Junior, the dog, caught a rattlesnake and killed it just before it killed my brother, or something close enough. That may have been the year that my dad, out of nowhere, grabbed my ankle while driving to somewhere because, as the oldest, my legs were the longest and most reachable. He said “If I hear one more word about poop, gas, or vaginas, I’m leaving you all on the side of the road!”
My brothers and I got years of comedy out of that. Each time one of our parents seemed annoyed, we’d shout to one another “If I hear one more word about poop, gas, or vaginas, I’m leaving you all on the side of the road!” and burst into giggles.
I think my parents got those early summers right.
While lying in bed with my son last night, at a much too-late hour, he sniffed and snuffed, tossed and fluffed. Arms, under the covers, and then the covers thrown off. His pollen allergies were making it difficult for him to fall asleep because while sniffling and snuffling is fine by day, once we lie down, it all becomes more there, stuffed, back of throat and overall annoying. While he sniffed and shifted, I was getting more and more agitated as the minutes ticked by. I knew he’d be tired today, and I know that his repeated tiredness means he’s more likely to become ill, and I want him healthy to enjoy his first ever for-real birthday party on Saturday.
His birthday isn’t until July, but nobody is around in July and there’s also the fact that he’s never cared about having a birthday party before. We usually go to the beach, or on a trip, but now he cares greatly and deeply about having a party here. We want his friends to come, and they aren’t around near the 4th of July, either.
And so we are going over the top of the top with this party, and he’ll have an obstacle course, a bounce house, a Superhero theme, swimming, and finally, pizza and cake with 14 of his closest friends. Or, at least those who he thought to mention when I asked who he wanted to invite. To say that I’m stressed out about summer would be stating the obvious but I know it’s going to be fun. Damnit, it’s going to be fun. I’m going to get this summer party right.
During his shifts and his shuffles and his snuffles and his comments, I heard his words, paused, and I breathed them in with presence and peace. “Stay here forever, Mommy,” he said.
And I wanted to. Just moments before that, I wanted him to go to sleep and to stop talking and asking me things like “Do skeletons eat? Where did their eyeballs go?”
His words. Oh, my, his words. “Stay here forever, Mommy” reminded me that it’s only been a couple of years since I prayed silently and out loud for him to talk. To be able to have a conversation with me. To wonder about things like where skeletons’ eyeballs go. And so I fluffled my own pillow on his bed, flung my leg outside and then again beneath his covers while my arm around him did not move, and I stayed there. I may have stayed for almost forever.
I, at least, got the night right, and the summer is still ahead of us.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather to complete the same sentence and share our variations on it with one another. This week’s sentence is “This summer…”