Friday, October 24, 2014

broken bikes & black eyes

"I don't feel nearly as bad about running over our son's bike with my car after you kicked our daughter in the eye."

I think that about sums up our family camping trip last week.

It was good fun, actually. I mean. You know. Considering the fact we had 7 kids 4-and-under in tow.

not a terrible view
We camped right on the beach and we were with our favorite friends and all the minis loved each other and played and played and flew kites and spent hours in the sun and sand and sea. Happy campers, literally.

little people, big kite.

One of my best friends Claire and I were pregnant with our first babies at the same time, lived a mile apart, and spent a lot of time together the first year of the kids' lives. The kiddos, Jack and Millie, were sweet little baby-BFFs. They later moved away, but we still manage to get the pipsqueaks together a couple times a year. One of DM's cousins has a PhD in child-something-or-other. She seems very wise. Recently she was talking about how children "imprint" on each other at a very young age, so even if they don't see each other often, they have these innate memories of one another.

And i feel like that must be true of these two because they get along like gangbusters when they see each other. Then there's Colby chasing after them like, "Hey guythz, wait up! Can i play too?" Poor nugget. Sadly, Jack was relegated to Millie's second fiddle when my friend DP's daughter "Button" joined the kid crew. Sorry, son. Best familiarize yourself with this feeling now. Let's revisit the issue in about ten years and talk about a little tactic called "playing hard to get" vs. "sobbing inconsolably because she doesn't want to sit next to you."

Anyway, within the parameters of family vacations, it was pretty perfect.

a beautiful mess
Though we did spend a night at the motel 6 in Lompoc, CA, which I hope was a once in a lifetime experience. *Shudder.* Colby did barf on the winding drive there. Apparently she shares her mother's propensity for motion sickness. I did expose my latent heteronormativity by asking Claire to pick up a coloring book with "boy stuff" for Jack (i.e., super heroes and ninjas versus the puppies and princesses we had on hand). DM did run over and destroy Jack's bike with the car. And I did kick Colby in the eye. (She was roasting a marshmallow and leaned too far forward in her cheapo camp chair and tipped toward the fire pit. She was out of arm's reach so I threw up my foot to stop her from falling into the flames... aaaaand, kicked her in the "eyebowl." She had a shiner and everything ;-/)

There were ruthless seagulls and fearless bees to contend with. And a bunch of brazen raccoons ransacked our camp the first night. They got into the coolers and broke/ate/tossed four dozen eggs all over the place so, not only did we not have anything for breakfast, we essentially got egged by rodents of unusual size. They destroyed a box of graham crackers, too, so at one point Claire resorted to making s'mores with tortilla chips. Coming soon to a Pinterest board near you ;) She tried to liken it to salted caramel but I wasn't buying it. And of course it wouldn't be a real family vacation without a sick kid. Colby was a total snot faucet the whole time, poor bug. I'm not sure a kleenex was used once. "Roughing it." Oh! And I got so much grief for my headlamp! You people don't know what you're missing!

BETTER than sliced bread. y'all are crazy. it is an incomparable tool for eating pizza in the dark, and other essential activities.
In spite of all that, though, the kids were on cloud nine. I remember one of the first times we took Jack camping, and after one day he was like, "Can we go home now?" But this time they both decided they want to live in a tent forEVAH! It was so cute. And though I've never been an advocate of the family bed, it is sorta fun to wake up all together in this cozy little cocoon. (I actually wish I'd taken a pic of our crooked cocoon. It was a sad, lopsided little thing, listing dangerously to the left, probably from the gale force winds that nearly blew us off the cliff into the ocean last time we went camping.) We even had themed dinners! And of course there's nothing like drinking beers around the fire with friends (once the kids are asleep and the threat of toasted children is no longer imminent). It can't be beat.

Oh YEAH. Also the part where we taught the littles how to play beer pong. RELAX. They didn't drink the beer or anything. They were just our ping pong proxies. I swear I read about it in Parenting Magazine or something. Teaches valuable skills like teamwork and hand-eye coordination. Anyway. Jack was a natural. Pretty sure we created a monster the second he sunk that first ball. His eyes fairly gleamed in triumph. We didn't think much of it at the time, but the next day we got onto the topic of "things you can do when you're 16," like drive a car (because DM also let him "drive" the car down to the camp store - permagrin!) DP asked, "what else are you going to do when you're 16?" and J says, "DRINK BEER!" Aaaaaand, we just created an alcoholic. Wonderful. Can't wait to hear how this gets translated to his teachers. Up until now we had duped the kids into calling anything alcoholic "gwown up dwink." I felt much safer cloaked in that gauzy ambiguity. Oh well!

Anyway, the point is, (mostly) good times were had by all. But. Holy shit, man. The amount of crap we brought? Unreal. I don't even know how we fit it in our car. My parents, who could hike for ten days with nothing but what they could carry on their backs, would be appalled. Seriously. I felt like I was preparing for The End of Days. And of course, we wouldn't want to venture to the end of days without our iPads. (Again, the shame! My mom and stepdad are rolling over in their graves. Even a year ago we SWORE this was something we'd never-ever do: camping and i-anything. But really by now we should know better than to say "I never.")

provisions for a normal human to survive for 4 months,
or my family to camp for 4 days 
precious cargo! it feels like we're forgetting something though.. 
And then there was the great glow stick fiasco of 2014. One night we handed out glow sticks for the kids. Jack and Colby both got green ones, and we fashioned them into necklaces with twine. But THEN. Jack noticed that Button had a PURPLE glow stick, with a soft black lanyard. OH, the injustice. THE HORROR. Well. Button's dad, JP, overheard the ruckus and assumed that it was Colby, not Jack, who was squealing like a stuck pig over a purple glow stick. So he managed to wangle a coveted purple stick out of thin air, and gave it to Colby. Oh dear lord. You can probably imagine where things went from there. Or maybe you can't, because your children are not psycho-beastie-babies. ANYWAY. Jack starts LOSING HIS EVER LOVING MIND because Colby got a purple glow stick and he didn't. Then he tries to snatch it from her, which of course sets Colby off. Talk about end of days. World War Z erupts and I promptly fireman-carried both children to bed. Colby finally decided to be the bigger person and trade her purple for his green, but naturally, that was TOTALLY insufficient, because jack wanted a purple glow stick with a BLACK necklace, not a scwatchy, twine necklace. "Everything is terrible. What is the point of going on??? HOW CAN I BE EXPECTED TO LIVE LIKE THIS?!?" (< I'm paraphrasing.)

Poor JP felt bad for exacerbating the histrionics but I assured him he could not possibly have anticipated the depths of my children's despair over WHAT COLOR GLOW STICK they received. I mean, come the f*ck on. After I finally got the crazies to sleep I was commiserating with my friends over the fire. Are we just raising complete and total terrors? I think the answer is pretty clearly yes. But everyone made me feel a tiny bit better, reminding me that they're just kids. (Though I feel like this is the same argument people use with extremely large puppies - oh, they're little, it's fine, and then suddenly you have a 300 pound dog leaving Everest-sized piles of poop on your bed and using your head as a tiny pillow.) Claire said "Your kids are kind, which is the most important thing, right?" ("Kind" with the caveat that they occasionally torture their parents, each other, and unsuspecting State Park patrons.) Or maybe that's just what delusional, overindulgent parents of spoiled little bratwursts tell themselves. But then JW reiterated my favorite parenting mantra: compared to the vast spectrum of shitty parents, we are most likely at the high end, e.g., only very slightly shitty. And then I felt pretty okay.

good thing they're so cute.


  1. You are not heteronormative because, according to Wikipedia, it is linked to homophobia:

    Disclaimer: I had to Google heteronormativity because I had never heard that word before.

    Also, you obviously have a new 'never have i ever' g-rated drinking game:
    "Never have I ever camped with an iPad."


    1. I see your point! Maybe "adherence to outmoded gender stereotypes" would have been more apt ;)

      LOL re: new drinking games. Where I come from, we just call it "I never." ;)