Thursday, July 16, 2009
It's a privilege...
Years ago, when I had a houseful of children, on an evening when the kids were especially wound up and noisy and disrespectful. I got angry, as moms sometimes do, and made the mistake of trying to threaten them into better behavior. "If you kids don't calm down," I yelled, "you'll be outside sleeping in a tent tonight. It's a privilege to sleep in the house!"
The kids gaped at me, open-mouthed, and then burst into guffawing laughter. They poked fun at my short-term rage and my ridiculous threat. After a bit, I grinned and backed down, defeated by my own self-righteousness. They knew I wouldn't drive them out into the dark, and they were right.
Over the years, given my love of camping and backpacking, my family has turned that memorable faux pas into an inside, teasing joke. "Remember," they'll tell me from time to time, "it's a privilege to sleep in a tent."
Yesterday I had a rough day. I worked all day in Salem, came home briefly, then went out to Scouter's Mountain for a day camp meeting to wrangle the t-shirts that should have been ordered and hadn't been, then cried on the way home about another sadness. I went to McDonald's and bought a hamburger and a milkshake and ate them by myself, still teary, at Clackamette Park. Finally got home at 8:00, spent another hour tracking down day camp details, and then Maleena came downstairs, hurting from her Tuesday surgery, wanting something to eat. Mark was at a meeting; I'd hardly seen him all day, and come to find out he hadn't picked up any groceries earlier in the day. So I went to the store, resentful because I wanted a little time for something I chose to do, not something I was expected to do by others. Driving home 15 minutes later, my cell phone rang; Maleena was calling to tell me that Mark was home and he'd gone to the store on the way home from his meeting.
Something in me snapped. I dumped the groceries on the counter and went upstairs to start a load of wash - I wanted a shower and I was out of clean underwear because I'd been working all week and hadn't done any wash - but the washer and dryer were full of Julia & Mike's laundry. Went into my bedroom, which was still a mess from the wall-painting project Mark had undertaken last week, and things still weren't put back where they belong. I was mad and tired and sad and sweaty and I didn't want to deal with anyone.
So I did what any self-respecting backpacking grandma would do under those circumstances: I went and grabbed my backpacking tent and a Thermarest and a sleeping bag out of the basement, and stomped out to the orchard, where I set up my tent and sleeping gear. I cried a while, then pulled out my headlamp and my book and read for a while. Maleena came out to apologize for making me go to the store, and Mark came out to check on me, but he didn't try to talk me into coming back inside. So I read a while longer and then slept until 4:00 am, when I had to go to the bathroom, so I went back in the house and slipped into bed next to Mark, who was awake waiting for me. We talked for a while and went to sleep until morning, when I went out to put the tent away.
I sure don't want to get all emotional like that very often, but yes, it's a privilege to sleep in a a tent.