Rachel is sleeping out under the stars tonight. Sort of.
Owing to my brother Herb's great love of being bitten, stung and inconvenienced by nature, we for the last three years have suffered the indignities of camping out on Memorial Day weekend, albeit with the mitigating factor of doing so with family. This year, owing less to the exorbitant rates now being charged for gasoline than to scheduling difficulties, we gave the annual trip a pass.
And not a year too soon, if you ask me. I hate being unable to sleep because the ground is rocky and the air is bitterly cold. But I digress.
My children, despite being more closely related to me than to their uncle, love camping. So Rachel was disappointed to learn that we weren't planning to eat cold and tasteless food around a smokey fire and pass the hours in sheer boredom. She begged and pleaded, and asked again and again if we could go, as though that would change our circumstances.
But daddy remains, if nothing else, resourceful. Last week he suggested the prospect of camping out in the living room. We could cut out the moon and some stars from construction paper and hang them from the ceiling, and then climb into our sleeping bags. It would have all the novelty of camping, with all the fun and comfort of taking advantage of 10,000 years of human progress.
Evangeline gave up the first night after 10 minutes, meaning there is some hope for her, and she went upstairs to sleep in her bed. Rachel followed soon after, disappointed that she had no one to sleep with in her plastic tent, leaving me alone to camp under the stars, as I already had fallen asleep on the couch. (Natasha, sensibly enough, had decided that if we were camping at home, she was going to pretend to sleep at a hotel near the campground, as my parents regularly have done all four years.)
So the first night was a disappointment, but Rachel has made up for it since. For the past five nights, Friday included, she has dutifully camped out in the living room. To her, it's the real thing. She even has a flashlight she can use if she needs to go to the bathroom during the night.
If my brother decides we should make the family trip again next year, I have to remember to sell everyone on the virtues of this arrangement. It's cheaper, you sleep better, and from everything Rachel has expressed, it's every bit as much fun as Herb's sort -- maybe even more, because when you wake up, you have all the conveniences of home right at your fingertips.
Copyright © 2008 by David Learn. Used with permission.