It all went about as I expected.
Well, except for the screaming. That took me by surprise.
We went camping over the 4th of July, with both sets of grandchildren and one set of parents.
I wasn’t overly concerned about having custody of the 3-year-old. Really, she’s not that big . . . how much trouble could she be?
I told a friend of mine the plan, and he laughed out loud.
“You should buy a cigar,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because at 2:00 a.m., when there are three or four grandchildren pushing you off your air mattress you can take the cigar, go outside, sit on a stump, look at the stars, and smoke it. And that’s all the rest you’re going to get.”
I’m not saying I thought he was wrong, but I didn’t buy the cigar.
Typically, I’m not a huge fan of camping. People tell me it’s great because they wake up with the sun and listen to the birds and other wildlife as the world comes alive.
Well, yeah, but that’s what I do every day of my life. I don’t know how to fish, I don’t have any golf clubs and, I have to confess, I find that game where you throw bean bags through a hole in a piece of plywood a little boring.
But I do like my family, and my family was going camping.
When we reached the state park where we agreed to meet, we found that there was a big tipi reserved for our use. Lots of room, including no end of headroom, so it was agreed that since I don’t bend very well, that’s where we would sleep.
Of course, all four grandchildren opted for the tipi, too.
Someone clearly got outsmarted here, and I don’t think we need to say whom.
Everyone got tucked into bed more or less on schedule and fell asleep more or less without fuss. There was the slight issue of the 3-year-old sticking her feet in my face, but let’s face it, it could have been worse.
Somewhere around 3:00 a.m. or so, the 5-year-old woke up because he needed to go to the bathroom. But the place he woke up was not in his home, or our house, and he was badly confused, so he just paced back and forth, urgently, making an unsettling noise. I bounded out of bed.
Well, actually, I rolled off the air mattress and creaked slowly to my feet.
However I did it, I corralled the little guy, gave him a flashlight, and pointed him towards the bathroom about 40 yards away. I stood in the doorway of the tipi to make sure he got there all right.
It was completely dark, but I knew where the bathrooms were - that’s the sort of thing I pay attention to. In the darkness and with just a flashlight, and a fairly profound sense of urgency, my man missed them completely and headed up the road.
He was moving pretty fast, bare feet and all. Have you seen the movie, The Incredibles? It’s a cartoon about a family of superheroes. The little boy’s talent is super-speed, so when he runs there’s just a faint blur of his legs and a cloud of dust blowing up behind him.
That’s the way my grandson was moving, but he was headed down a road where the next bathroom was 12 miles away and I didn’t think he would make it. Plus, he was making that same unsettling noise, only louder.
I chased after him, bare feet, knobby knees and all, and managed to catch him just before he made the turn for the interstate.
Everything worked out just fine, but it was some time before there was peace in the valley, and a long time left until morning.
Made me wish I had a cigar.
Copyright 2013 Brent Olson