Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Summer Memories: Camping

September is now here, but thankfully, the sunny skies and hot weather remain. Jeff is back to work with a new batch of Grade 8s that seem more manageable than last year's. Time will tell. I'm busying myself with painting all our trim once again (the coat I did in the summer was just primer), and Kaiya and I are settling into our new routine.

Before the summer gets too far away from all our minds, I wanted to put up a couple more posts of some of the things we did in July and August. For today, it's our eventful (and somewhat short) camping trip.

In August, Jeff and Kaiya and I joined Robyn and our youth group on the annual camping trip. The destination was Elora Gorge, and we were excited. We have great memories of tubing down the gorge, and we were looking forward to sharing the experience with a new batch of kids in our youth group. However, in the week leading up to the trip, we kept reading reports of impending rain and thunderstorms... to last all weekend. This after an already rainy summer. We were a bit concerned, but kept planning. We had no idea the rain would be the least of our worries.

After an uneventful drive, we arrived at a dry Elora, only to be greeted by a massive sign that said something to the effect of "NO TUBING." Due to the copious amounts of rain we'd been receiving, someone had deemed the water levels too dangerous for tubing. Arg. And then, a smaller sign advising people not to swim at the beach because of high bacteria levels. Double arg. I was starting to wonder what the point was. And if it hadn't have been a youth trip, it would have been a triple arg as my eyes next lit upon the "total alcohol ban in effect" sign. Honestly folks, why don't we all just stay home!?

But Kaiya loved Elora. As soon as I brought her out of the car, she was squealing, flapping her arms, and practically jumping out of mine. I think it was the trees. She has a thing for trees, and there were lots of them there. Big ones.

We got all set up, which took quite some time, as Jeff had decided to construct a "tarp city." If I remember correctly, we ended up having 800 square feet of tarped camping space. Crazy!

But we were ready for rain, that was for sure. I was looking forward to a weekend of Kaiya being entertained by various youts (yes, I meant to spell it that way) as I read lots of books. It was looking good.

Around 8 I put Kaiya to sleep in our tent. I was a little worried about her settling in okay, what with it being a very unfamiliar setting, but she did really well. After a bit of crying, she fell asleep and I joined the rest of the group around the fire.

I decided to join Kaiya around 10. She startled a little bit when I entered the tent, but after some soothing, I was able to coax her back to sleep. I was just settling in myself when Jeff decided to join us around 11.


Here is where the troubles began. Kaiya once again was startled. Quite badly. It was a bit odd because she didn't seem fully awake, and yet she launched herself into her full-on WAIL. If any of you have heard the WAIL, you know it's not pleasant. The WAIL makes it sound as though the world, as we know it, is ending. The WAIL will not be consoled by the usual methods of singing, belly rubbing, talking, or shushing. The WAIL demands that the child be picked up and held in said child's preferred position, upright over your right shoulder. Oh, and don't forget that you have to be at the very least standing, and preferably walking. It was a good thing we were staying in the "dome of love." Lots of head room.

You'd think things were bad enough with just the WAIL. I mean, we were already thinking that it was fortunate that we were in the group camping section, and both our group and the one next to us were still sitting by the fire. I held Kaiya for a while, seemed to calm her, and then tried laying her back down. That's when we realized it was situation critical as we witnessed that the WAIL was accompanied by the back arch. The WAIL and the back arch put together make for one very inconsolable baby and two quickly exasperated parents. As soon as one tiny fuzz on Kaiya's little head, or one itty bitty patch of Kaiya's sweet skin came anywhere close to meeting the ground, the back arch would begin, closely accompanied by the WAIL. Jeff and I shared the look. The look that says, "buckle in folks, it's gonna be a long ride." I determinedly picked her up again and went through the same "upright over your shoulder, standing up and walking" routine. Again and again. When Jeff saw that my stubborness was the only thing remaining, and that my patience had long left the tent, he demanded to take over. He did have to demand. When it comes to this point, my rational mind leaves, and I'm not easily persuaded. Jeff took her, and I lay down. After about 30-40 minutes of holding Kaiya, at which point she was so far gone that her little body was completely limp, Jeff delicately placed her back down on the ground. And we gingerly snuggled in for some much needed sleep.

Ha. Sleep. Right. How are you supposed to sleep when you're afraid that one false move, one ill-timed rustle, will cause your sweet munchkin to rouse the entire campground with her WAIL?? Oh, and did I mention that it was damn cold? Try as I might, I could not will my body into the sleep it was desiring.

And then came 2 o'clock.

I don't know if it was a rustle or a bump, but Kaiya half-awoke once again. I had been half-sleeping so tensely that as soon as I heard the WAIL escaping her lips, I swooped her into my arms and started the "upright over your shoulder, standing up and walking" routine. Two o'clock in the morning was NOT the time to let the child WAIL. Jeff and I alternated for some time, but we knew it was even more desperate a scene than the 11 o'clock situation had been. Kaiya was not really awake, but completely inconsolable. We had figured out by this time that she was terrified of the dark and her surroundings. She was so freaked out that she wouldn't even nurse. And that is a bad sign. Another bad sign was my increasingly stubborn and irrational mindset. At one point I said to Jeff, "Well, I guess we're just going to take turns holding her until the sun rises." At another point I said, "That's it. I'm taking her home. Now." (a 2+ hour drive)...

I don't know how he did it, but somehow Jeff convinced me to spend the rest of the night in a motel. I don't know how he did it. I'm too cheap for words, and none of it made logical sense to me (keeping in mind my "logical sense" was somewhat skewed at the time). You want me to pack up my bags and somehow transport the WAILing child into the car and drive out of here at 2:30 in the morning? But he did it. He coaxed me out of the tent.

As soon as we were in the car, life looked up. Kaiya knows and loves her carseat, and if you can believe it, within a matter of minutes, she was smiling and blowing bubbles at me. I was not amused. (Well, to be honest, I was, but I was trying not to be). Jeff drove into town and asked a guy at a convenience store about some nearby motels. Of course, nothing was open. We kind of knew that would be the case. So there we were, at 3 in the morning, changing our daughter's diaper in the front seat of our car in a motel parking lot. Wondering what to do next, we drove to trusty Tim Horton's and took turns going inside to buy some donuts and hot drinks. We knew it was pointless to drive back to the campground. Kaiya was clearly terrified of the dark and the tent. So we resigned ourselves to somehow passing the time till sunrise. We sat in our car drinking our drinks while Kaiya fell asleep in her seat, wondering why other people were up, and who in the world the taxis were transporting in dead dead Fergus at 3:30 in the morning. Then we drove around some nearby towns just to pass the time, talking about how we would soon be able to laugh at this story. And somewhere in the middle of all this, I realized what a sweet memory this was becoming. I became incredibly glad for the safety and security of Jeff, and for the fact that he had persuaded me into the car. That he knew best and that I'd finally agreed to come along for the ride. A metaphor for our lives, really.

In the end, we both got sleepy, so we drove back to the campsite around 4 and slept in the car till sunrise. A funny scene, I know. Then we took Kaiya back into the tent with us. She startled a bit, but I nursed her back to sleep. After we got up, we stuck around for a while to share our funny(?) story. Then, just as the rain started to fall, Kaiya and I packed up and headed home. Jeff needed to stay with the group for the rest of the weekend, but one night of excitement was definitely enough for me. We all slept much better that night.

Here's a couple of pictures of our peanut before the events of the night:


James said...

Good story, Kathy. Kind of makes me wary of my dream of taking my kids camping all the time. Maria and Nathan will be able to tell you better, but I'm pretty sure that Mikayla's first night was awful, but it got better the next 2 nights.

Larissa said...

You're such a great storyteller, Kathy. I enjoyed this one immensely!