Not a Happy Camper

When the grandparents offered to have the boys stay in their new camper for a night, it was too tempting to not say, “Will you take her, too?”

After all, the three year old wouldn’t want to be left out of the fun, she can sleep in a normal bed, she’s slept away from home before, and she’s head-over-heels about her grandparents. (It’s mutual). Oh, and, Dennis and I certainly loved the idea of a schedule-free night with an alarm-free morning. A perfect scene for an 11 p.m. Olive Garden run and catching up on the Designated Survivor premiere.

It was a win-win-win.

Until 1:40 a.m., when the phone ringer shocked us from our slumber.

Sobs and wails echoed into the phone and throughout the interior of the camper. Hushes, lullabies, and comforting words — all attempts to keep the shrieks from waking the little sleepers two feet away.

The Facetime call brought reassurance and heavy eyes blinked into the darkness. Deep inhales and exhales morphed into a calmed hum.

We rolled over, relieved for REM to pick up where it’d left off.

Twenty minutes passed.

And then that cursed ringer rang once more.

Though he didn’t have her on speakerphone, I could hear her across the room. Her voice was unmistakable. “I want to go home!!!” It was unfounded panic. She was in a wonderful place, on a wonderful adventure, in the wonderful care of her grands.

But in that moment, her truth didn’t match. She was disoriented. The familiar people, the familiar blanket, the familiar pillow, the familiar teddy bear couldn’t give her what she needed in that moment. She needed home.

We rubbed our eyes open, layered into clothing fit for the frigid 50s, and fumbled for coherent small talk to keep us alert for the half-hour trek across town to the campground.

She was wide awake when we got there. The grandparents had done well cheering her up in anticipation. She chatted the whole way home. The truck. Grandma and Pa. Her blanket. Dory. Home. All an adventure to be told, in preschool sensibility and pace. She was not one bit traumatized. She was adventure-ized. She had a story.

It was almost three in the morning when we tucked her into home’s bed. A few hours later, her big brothers woke up inside the camper and hypothesized that their sister had escaped the camper to get to the playground first. They’d slept through the entire middle-of-the-night fiasco.

Adventure is a fickle beast. We set out on it with our plans, our provisions, our path, and our intentions, but the adventure itself comes in the unplanned, the resourceful moments, the detours, and, yes — at times — the rescue. Sometimes your truth doesn’t match and you just need to wail and be rescued.

I’m a calculated adventurer, taking minimal risks and over-anticipating. But my best adventures have happened off the grid, on the back of the map, at the bend in the road, and in the cry of the night.

What adventures have you set out on recently and where did the real adventure happen?

6 thoughts on “Not a Happy Camper

  1. Been there. Done that. Lost sleep. Swore I’d never let my kids do sleepovers again. And the next time I weakened, it happened again. Think of this as a growing experience for you and Den. Little Syd won’t remember a thing.

  2. “Sometimes your truth doesn’t match and you just need to wail and be rescued.” Oh, SO true!
    Great post, Amy!

  3. Love the story along with the adventure❤️We never know what adventure will be next. Little Syd just proves resilience and moving on is so so normal.

    1. We never do!! So true!! She has been through lots of transition – I do think she may be a resilient one!! ?❤️ thanks for your words!!

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