I am a planner–obsessively so: I am the only person I know who gets laughed at by people in the travel industry because I make my reservations so very, very, early. In fact, we have one vacation in the works for next summer that I made the original reservations for in 2002 (to their credit, the folks at this particular travel firm did not laugh at me; their attitude was more along the lines of “sure, we’ll take your money–freak”).
My husband, however, is not a planner; in fact, if there was a word for someone who flat out refuses to plan for the future (besides, of course, Republican), I’m sure that he would have business cards printed up with his name followed by that very word on them. Sometimes I swear he’s just one dreadlock away from sitting in the park singing “Jah provide the bread”: in his universe, everything always “just works out”; there is no need to “get all worked up” about minor details like hotel reservations and driving directions printed off of Mapblast because, “hey, everything always turns out ok in the end, doesn’t it?” (Oh, sure: the fact that I am there clutching my three ring binder full of confirmation numbers has nothing to do with that at all.)
So it was with a certain amount of perverse satisfaction that I heard the details of a recent camping trip he took with our two children while I was out of town at a writer’s conference, especially the parts where the trip, amazingly enough (to him), did not quite “all work out”.
To me, camping trips involve planning to the nth degree: the food requirements alone can require more strategizing than Napoleon’s push into Russia; this is because, unlike my children, Napoleon’s soldiers were willing to eat something other than chicken strips and Yoplait Custard-Style Vanilla yogurt (generic imposters need not apply).
Then there is the clothing: hopefully, Napoleon’s soldiers had enough sense not to fall into the creek more than a half a dozen times each on their campaoign stops, and therefore could travel without first having their mother pack them no less than seven changes of clothing per night. My children, however, are not so gifted.
Knowing all this, it was not surprising to me that the first planning faux pas involved dinner: spaghetti. Now, for my kids noodles are usually a sure thing; on this night, however, they failed to satisfy: it seems that no one had planned on bringing any bowls. Or forks.
Next came the small matter of the tent. We have two tents: one is a small two man tent from our “pre-children” days, while the other is a tent approximately the size and weight of a circus tent. We usually take the latter, and fill it (see above: seven changes of clothing per night). On this trip, however, my husband decided to bring the two man tent, using the theorem that 1 adult + 2 children=2 adults. This theorem would probably work quite well if you were placing the 1 adult and 2 children into a bag and preparing “Shake-n-Bake”; as a method for determining how many people can fit into a tent, however–not so much.
Needless to say, between the non-dinner and the non-sleeping the camping trip ended early–about 14 hours early (they were back home before dark, having stopped at Burger King for dinner on the way). Hearing all this on my return, I couldn’t help but try and turn the whole thing into a “teachable moment”: expecting a long, drawn out tale of woe, I casually asked Clementine how her “camping trip” had gone. “It was great,” she replied. “We got to sleep in our own beds and Daddy took us to Burger King for dinner! You know,” she added thoughtfully, “Daddy’s right: everything does always work out in the end.”