Tuesday, July 23, 2013


We went camping this past weekend. It was our first camping trip with tents; last year we "camped" at a campground, but we rented a cabin with "beds" on which there were "mattresses" and there was also an attached kitchenette and bathroom. The kitchenette and bathroom were legitimate; no quotation marks necessary. The main reason we got the cabin was that, at the time, I was still nursing Ann Marie during the night, and I required a wall on which to lean. But this year she sleeps right through, so tents it was! Jack and Nora slept in one tent; Andrew, Ann Marie, and I had the other.

Everything went swimmingly except that I woke up at midnight on the first night thinking I had heard Nora unzip their tent and call out to me. I sat up as though shot from a cannon and whispered, "Nora? Nora? Nora?" Andrew groggily asked what had happened, and I said "I think Nora's standing outside our tent!" I unzipped our window, but I couldn't see anything because a) I was not wearing my glasses and b) it was pitch dark. Undeterred, I kept whisper-shouting, "Nora? Nora?" but to no avail. I put on my glasses, but it didn't help much. See above, re: pitch-darkness. I tried shining a flashlight, but it just reflected off their tent and didn't help me at all.

"Do you want me to stick my head out there?" Andrew asked, already halfway through the tent flap. "She's not out there," he told me. "It's fine. Their tent isn't unzipped."

Reassured, I lay back down and tried to go back to sleep. Unfortunately my adrenal system was not on board with the whole "reassured" status, so instead I lay there, heart racing, picturing my small daughter wandering the campground in the dark, lost, frightened, and encountering bears. Because that is where my adrenal glands took me: Bear attack. In the family-friendly, somewhat crowded campground just a few miles outside of the town center. I should also point out that the kids' tent entrance was approximately four inches away from the side of our tent, so for Nora to wander off and get lost she would have had slink by our tent sideways for us not to have felt her brush against the canvas. Considering this is a child who is afraid to be downstairs when I am upstairs, the odds were strongly against her voluntarily sneaking off into the dark woods all alone at midnight.

And yet there I lay, anxious and worrying, and also with the increasing need to go to the bathroom but too scared to traverse the 30-yard-long, bear-encrusted path. It was a dilemma.

Finally unable to stand it, I woke Andrew up and asked him if he thought I'd run into any animals on my way to the bathroom. And by "animals" I really meant bears, or possibly rabid coyotes. Did I mention that I had heard some coyotes? I did. Thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands. Slavering just outside the tent. Andrew, however, did not seem to think I would encounter any animals, slavering or no.

"Will you stay awake until I get back?" I asked him. He said he would. I want you to take note of that agreement. I was relying on this, because his staying awake was going to keep me alive on my terrifying journey.

I put on my sweatshirt, took my flashlight, and bravely exited the tent. The first thing I did was shine my flashlight into the kids' tent and count how many children there were. I counted heads at least three times and there were always two, so I was at least able to put that fear to rest. Which left only the bears. And the coyotes. It left only whatever bears and coyotes were between me and the bathroom. I took a deep breath and headed out.

Suffice it to say, I successfully made it to the bathroom and back without encountering any bears OR coyotes, and once back in the tent was finally able to relax and fall asleep. The only repercussion was a nightmare in which Murdock from MacGuyver blew up our house.

But it was no thanks to Andrew, because guess who fell asleep while I was gone? THAT'S RIGHT. Fortunately, he didn't tell me that part until the following morning, when the sun was up and I could once again see the bathroom right from our campsite because it was seriously right there.