How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Posted on July 27, 2013 under Storytelling with one comment

Ah, those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer.  When we were children, the summer seemed endless. Hours seemed like days and days were like months.  We didn’t have a care in the world and all was right with the universe.  So what better way to relive your youth than to attend a summer camp with your son – the ideal opportunity for some male bonding.

But first, you have to take care of a few minor details.

A friend of mine relayed this story as he was about to embark on a journey of discovery with his 8 year old son.  Although the camp advertised that they would be providing most of the essentials, there were a few items that had to be procured.  A list was provided by the camp and a trip to Wal-Mart was organized.  Mother Nature, however, played havoc on what was thought to be a solid plan.  Instead of my friend’s wife going it alone, a summer rainstorm forced an “audible” when baseball was cancelled.  (Apologies to non-football fans.  This is when the quarterback changes his play call at the line of scrimmage.)

They decided to get the errands done on the way home, rather than making a separate trip later.  Going shopping with one’s spouse is hazardous at the best of times but then my friend decided to supervise their five children, aged 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 in the store while his spouse located the necessary items.  He figured that this was a better alternative than spending 30 minutes alone in the car with them and risking an evening nap that would keep the younger kids up all hours of the night.

These were not the best of times.

Since several members of the family were ball players, the noise level in the store was immediately elevated with the clackety- clack of cleats, drawing the attention of the Wal-Mart greeter.  Undeterred, the family took a hard right and headed for the toiletries section.

The store had one of those blood pressure testing apparatuses, something most of us routinely ignore.  My friend, entertaining warm thoughts of sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya, decided that he would humour himself and entertain the children and undergo the test.  The result; a healthy 121/69.   If it were any better, he wouldn’t be human.

And then things spiralled downhill quickly.  Sensing that the children were getting restless, my friend decided upon a trip to the children’s toys and games section of the store.  What was he thinking?  That’s when the youngest, still in diapers, decided that nature’s call simply could not wait and promptly filled his diaper.  This was immediately evident throughout the toy department.

No problem.  We’ve all been in that situation many times, but then again, most of us would have been carrying a diaper bag.  The trip home earlier would have addressed that small detail.  Luckily, Wal-Mart has everything, so a large box of disposable diapers and wipes was added to the camping list.

Meanwhile his wife continued shopping, undeterred by the incessant pounding of baseball cleats on concrete following her around the store.  My friend could feel his blood pressure rising slightly as household supplies were now being added to the shopping cart, on top of the aforementioned camping list.  When you have five children, every shopping opportunity must be maximized.

Then he gazed with bemusement as his wife asked him if he needed anything such as sweat pants to wear while sitting by the fire.  Our wives think of everything.  Accustomed to wearing dress pants at work, and not having been to camp lately, the thought of wearing comfortable sweatpants was very appealing.  Admit it men.  Our wives are always right.

Did you ever notice that men rarely, if ever, go into change rooms?  Wearing shorts at the time, he pulled a pair of comfortable sweatpants over his shorts, in the middle of the men’s wear section.  This was met with a look of scorn from his wife – perhaps she expected him to show a little more interest in his attire.  He anticipated a reprimand and his blood pressure spiked a few more points.

The circumnavigation of the store mercifully came to an end and the family headed to the checkout.  This is when the 4 year old announced (“attention Wal-Mart shoppers”…) that he had to go pee.  My friend’s shoulders slumped as he shuffled off to the washroom.  Fifteen minutes later (another story in itself), they emerged, another crisis avoided.

Finally and blessedly, the ordeal was coming to a close.  He eyed the blood pressure equipment oh so briefly but knew the next test result wouldn’t be pretty, so he took a pass.  As his wife stayed at the checkout, he headed to the car with a diaper, wipes and 5 kids in tow.

And then the rain came in earnest.  As he bent over the seat changing a squirmy toddler, the skies opened up with a torrential downpour.  The child stayed dry; he didn’t.  And then the kids announced that they were hungry.

With everyone strapped in the car, the windows cloudy with humidity, my friend turned to his wife and asked how much they had spent. To which his wife laughed.  The bill for the camping trip had somehow doubled.    The windows remained foggy for the entire trip home.

Only the thought of a cold beer at the camp consoled him.  Then he saw in fine print at the bottom of the camping list, a reminder that alcohol was forbidden at camp.  He hummed a few bars of “Camp Grenada” and prayed for snow.

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