A Father's Journal / Things that go drip in the night
As I get older, camping in tents gets harder. Especially harder to get up in the morning. Every morning after we camp, I walk like Fred Sanford when I get up. This is not because we pitched our tent on a rock or root. Typically, we have been camping on nice, suburban, soft lawns.
This year on June 8 and 9, we have two camp- outs back to back in different locations, both within the borders of Fairfield. Our first night is on a beautiful, broad lawn. Our second night is on artificial turf.
The first night we will be camping on the Pequot Library's lush Great Lawn. This annual potluck supper and campout event kicks off its Summer Reading series. They have a potluck dinner, s'mores, a bonfire and a band -- if we're lucky someone will bring a guitar for some robust rounds of "American Pie" and "Uncle John's Band." Afterward, about half the families retire to their tents for a night under the stars. The other half returns home to the comfort of their beds. We have done it every year under the stars except last year. Many of us optimistically left the rain coverings off of our tents until about 1 a.m., when the heavens opened up.
We stretched our rain tarp out and secured it, but it must have had a lot of microscopic holes because every five minutes a single drop of water would fall on my face. After it happened twice, I shifted my position. Five minutes later a single drop dropped. I moved again -- same thing. I finally put some clothes on my face and waited. Nothing. Did it happen yet? Did the clothes absorb the drop? Whose underpants are these? I took the clothes off my head. Splat! I then put another piece of the tent over my head, but soon got claustrophobia and couldn't breathe.
My daughter was sleeping peacefully less than five feet from me. I checked her face. It was completely dry. Would it make me a bad parent to gently nudge her face away and put my face where hers was? She was already sleeping. I was not. I had a lot of time to debate it, waiting for the next drop to fall.
My plan this year is to sleep as much as I can the first night, then struggle to get on my feet and to Dunkin Donuts. Then on to the second campout. This one is on artificial turf, which is even softer except those little black beads that get into everything.
This second campout is for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, also an annual event. My daughters put together a team where at least one person from each team is supposed to be walking around the track at Fairfield Ludlowe High School all night. My wife and I signed up to be chaperones, so we may or may not sleep -- a chaperone from last year told me after I signed up that she didn't sleep a wink.
My daughters organized it. We are going along for the ride. I don't mind. My grandmother, mother, father, aunts, cousins, mother and father-in-law have all had to deal with cancer. My mother in law, cousin, and aunt will be there on the field with my daughters walking the survivors lap.
This year, our team's name is "Fight through the Night" I will be pretty tired from the camping through the night so I suggested "Sleep Through the Night" or "Complain Through the Night" or "Quietly Whimper in the Corner of the Tent until 6 a.m."
This campout will be a little sad for me. My oldest daughter, Caroline, is going to be a junior in high school in the fall. She is one of the captains of our team. Realistically this may be the last time we share a tent together. I get a little choked up thinking about the first time we camped out when she was 3 in our backyard. Now she has grown so tall and graceful. It will be harder moving her under the drip.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday in the Fairfield Citizen. He can he reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.