If there is such a thing as post-traumatic camping disorder, I am suffering from it today. It is three parts sleep deprivation, one part laundry, and two parts I DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU AND DO YOU APPRECIATE IT? NO! YOU DON’T! I’M JUST YOUR MOTHER, SO OF COURSE YOU DON’T!
Yes. It’s like that.
I totally NEEDED those marshmallows, man. Also this glass of wine that Otto so kindly placed on the corner of my desk before retreating to the safety of his own desk. In addition to my PTCD, I am also somewhat gripped with a screaming disorder today. Every other sentence out of my mouth is turned to maximum volume on the nagging fishwife channel and I am horrified to hear myself but powerless to stop it, because I am too tired to get a grip.
And the very saddest part is that it was an incredible day and SO MUCH FUN, right up until the end.
What you need to understand about me is this: My family did not take vacations or do vacation-y things, when I was a child. And in my first marriage I was regaled with tales of family vacations but we never seemed to actually do any of those things, ourselves. Bottom line, I have no idea how to just go and have fun. The idea of going somewhere to spend the day just HAVING FUN AS A FAMILY is kind of a mythical concept, for me. I’ve READ about such things, and I’d love to experience it myself, but who knows if it can be done.
Well, it turns out that it’s possible. Stone Mountain has a million things to do and see, and as soon as you get over the fact that it’s 95 degrees outside, you’re all set. The kids can’t believe that everything they suggest with a tentative, “Oh, can we go do THAT?” we responded with “Sure! Let’s go!” They were good as gold as we tromped to and fro, checking out all the south had to offer.
(As much as Otto loves to talk about people here referring to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression,” I didn’t hear anyone refer to it that way yesterday. But I did see a lot of people dressed up in old-fashioned clothing and speaking in thick southern accents, so I feel I was sufficiently immersed. Plus, I ate fried pickles. So there you go.)
We ate ourselves silly and let the kids run through obstacle courses and pick events off the map and we even had a long conversation with a talking fountain. We had assumed it was just a recording of a voice, you know, and were more interested in the water coming out of the fountain than what it was saying. But after the kids had frolicked a bit I called to them and gave Chickadee our backpack to carry, and the fountain said, “Yep, you don’t wanna get your backpack wet! It was good that you took it off!” and we all FROZE because DUDE, THE FOUNTAIN IS WATCHING US! It was like Candid Camera all of a sudden. So I told the kids to go ask the fountain something, and Chickadee was all “NO WAY, he’s FREAKING ME OUT” and Monkey ran right up to the stone and shouted, “DO YOU EAT?” because when faced with a talking fountain who can apparently see you, the burning question on my son’s mind is probably what flavor of pop-tart said magical fountain might prefer.
(To his credit, Mr. Talking Fountain’s game reply was, “Do I EAT? Well now, lemme see. I don’t reckon I rightly do!” And Monkey laughed hysterically, because northern children find the word “reckon” totally giggle-worthy. And then he got sprayed again, so it was all good.)
We took the train ride and we let Otto take pictures of us and we rode the sky ride to the top of the mountain because we were all wearing sandals and did I mention how it was 95 degrees? After scoping out the top of the mountain for a while we began to feel that the gallon of water we’d each consumed was not doing enough to cool us down, so we made a pit stop for some Icees. In case you’re wondering, Icees on the top of Stone Mountain cost approximately $80 apiece. I’m surprised my children didn’t drop dead from the shock of my offering to purchase them.
Now, it was a big day, and an exciting day, and so when little signs of Excitement Fatigue started showing up, I tried to just accept that this is what happens. First we went to an Animal Planet show where Monkey fell apart over not being picked to be a volunteer. We were sitting about halfway back, in the middle, and even if the woman in charge could’ve seen his pitiful scrawny little arm, she was picking people from the front and on the ends. It was nothing personal. But Monkey, my sweet and darling Monkey, he just couldn’t hear that. He was heartbroken. He sobbed. I tried to soothe him and he would not be consoled. Finally I had to threaten to take him out if he couldn’t pull himself together, so he sniffled a bit and watched the rest of the show. Then on our way out the trainer was standing there with a parrot and Monkey said, “You didn’t pick me! I wanted to come hold him!” and he started sniffling again and the trainer let him hold the parrot. He was ecstatic.
Fabulous, right? Well, sort of. Otto took his picture, but of course he’d been crying for half the show by that time, so later on we were treated to a fresh tantrum when he saw how pitiful he looked in the picture. Of course.
Chickadee—to her credit—was an absolute angel when all of this happened, not complaining about her brother getting to hold the bird and have his picture done, and telling him how great she thought it all was. I took her aside for a squeeze and to tell her how proud I was of her, and she later scaled a rock wall and waved to me from the top with a grin that fairly split her face. She was having a great day!
And so by the time we’d had enough of the park, we headed back to our campsite—totally grateful that they’d allowed us to come in and set up when we’d arrived. All we had to do was make and eat dinner, and then enjoy a night’s snooze under the stars.
Well, I don’t know if you know this—and I certainly don’t want to alarm anyone—but in nature? Outside? There are BUGS. Some of them FLY.
I know. It was a shocking revelation to us, too.
And so dinner went sort of like this:
A BEE! AAAHHHHHHHH! THERE’S A BEE! GET IT AWAY! GET IT AWAY! IT’S ON MY JUICE! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! WAH! WAH! IT’S GONNA GET ME!!!
So that was relaxing. (Let it be noted for the record, that I am the only one in the family allergic, plus Otto actually got stung at the beginning of the day while we were putting up the tents, and neither of US were the ones screaming.) (Also please note that I killed three sweat bees with a newspaper, just because I was tired of listening to Chickie wail.)
We had a campsite right on the lake, which meant that we could hear all sorts of things. Like the laser show, which we’d decided we were too tired to go over to see. And when I say “right on the lake” I mean RIGHT ON THE LAKE, like the kids’ tent was about 15″ from the water’s edge, and there was a water taxi. The water taxi would zoom by and then after a short delay you’d hear the waves lapping at the shore in its wake, the net result being ZOOOOOOOOM SLOSH SLOSH SLOSH SLOSH HONKHONKHONK because there were also lots of geese and ducks who were generally pretty pissed off to have their nice quite water suddenly turned all choppy.
All of this meant that the insects and the peepers had a bit of competition, noise-wise, and so it wasn’t exactly quiet. But it was certainly quiet enough to sleep if you were really tired and wanting some rest and, OH YEAH, not my daughter.
Well, it was SO NOISY. Also, it was SO HOT. (It was really hot. Years from now, Otto will still be tormenting me about my insistence that we PACK SWEATSHIRTS when going camping in August in Georgia. It may have dipped all the way down to 75 around 2:00 or 3:00 this morning, but when we hit the sleeping bags it was easily still 85 degrees.)
And so my daughter, my darling daughter, decided she would not be going to sleep, Sam I Am. She sang. She talked. She poked her brother. She ignored countless warnings. She zipped and unzipped the tent, and she completely rearranged the contents of said tent until the children were spread-eagled in the middle while their mats and sleeping bags tried to climb the walls. She cried. She was too hot, too thirsty, too loud (“Try not making any noise,” I suggested through clenched teeth), and her head hurt (“Know what’s good for that? SLEEPING”).
I kept falling asleep and being woken up by her. And finally when even ultra-patient Otto said, “One more word from her and I’m packing the car and we’re heading home,” I pleaded with her to JUST. LAY. DOWN. AND. STOP.
It sort of soured the experience, but I don’t want it to. We had a wonderful day, we really did. It’s the capping it off with only about 4 hours of sleep that I didn’t enjoy as much.
In the morning we packed up and headed to Waffle House (mmmm… bacon) and the children insisted they’d had a great trip. Back home, I took the kids out on an errand run and Chickadee was asleep in the car before we made it to the end of the street. Later, Monkey collapsed on the couch and slept so long I had to wake him up because I feared he’d never sleep tonight. Both kids went to bed at about 7:15 (!!) without complaint.
So that was really special, and all, but I have had a lot of caffeine and a lot of marshmallows today and am really, really, really looking forward to sleeping in my own (silent) bed tonight.