On Sunday afternoon, my daughter and I pitched the large tent in the backyard next to our garden. My daughter loved putting the poles together and clipping on the tent. Because our soil is fairly loose and sandy, she was able to easily push the stakes in by hand, something I did not know if a four year-old could do.
After dinner and bath, we finished taking bedding out to the tent and settled down for the night. Originally, I had her sleeping on a queen sized inflatable mattress while I was on a thermorest next to her. Unfortunately, the spot I chose for the tent had a very large divot in the ground under where I was trying to sleep. After some fussing around, I determined that it just wouldn’t work, so I moved up on the mattress fully aware that this meant limited to no sleep.
My daughter chatted away, she is a talker, and finally two hours later the sun went down. As it got dark, she gave a few, “I want to sleep inside,” comments. I told her we’d go in in twenty minutes, and she zonked out well before that time was up.
During the night, calling how she used me as a pillow snuggling would be a euphemism. First she jammed her head into my ribs, and then I managed to rotate her so that it was just my shoulder and arm that bore the brunt of her battering ram approach to sharing a sleeping space. She also thrashed around on the mattress, and that is not conducive to sleep for a partner on an air bed. And she ground her teeth, and by grind I mean put all the local wildlife in flight mode for fear of being caught in an avalanche. About what I expected.
Then the mattress started to leak. Finally, I felt the call of nature, so a carefully got up, took care of myself, and then plugged in the mattress pump. I thought this might wake her up, but she slept blissfully through the whirr of the electric motor as she was lifted back to a foot off the ground.
Somewhere after that I got an hour or so before more thrashing, tooth grinding, and dawn put an end to my sleep for the night.
All of this is beside the point. From her perspective, she had been jazzed for a day when I suggested that we go camping in the backyard, and the event was great. She slept, she was excited about doing something big for the first time, and she got to spend some quality time with daddy.
I can only imagine that the things I took for granted when my family went camping kept my parents up at night or added to their burden in planning and executing a camping trip, and there were many camping trips. Camping with the family is one of the strong recurring events in my memory, and I hope to give my children access to this wonderful activity.
My daughters joy and pride in her first camping experience is worth several nights of sleep.