I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Post-Camp Wrap Up

Remember I said that the first commandment of parenthood is "Thou Shalt Suffer?" .... nowhere was this more evident than on my latest experience in Mum-and-Cub camping.

Imagine the worst camping experience you can think of. Really think hard about what might be there. Do you think there might be...

Relentless rain?
Gale force winds of 55kmph?
Freezing cold temperatures?
An army style canvas tent which collapses on you at 3am?
A stake hitting a water pipe and causing a gusher?
The toilet block not having anything on which to dry your hands?
Forgetting to pack a single water proof item of clothing for either you or your son?

15 hormonal boys and 10 irritating mothers for company?
No plan B activities planned for a rainy day(s)?
Mud, mud, and more mud?
Leaky tents?
Being so cold you need to resort to wearing every item of clothing you brought with you, including four pairs of underwear (but excluding the bathing suit or sandals)? 

Now what if I tell you that yours truly went on Mum-and-Cub camp...and had all of those, AND THEN SOME?

The yours truly who thinks camping is horrible even when it is warm and dry and activity-filled, the yours truly who thinks camping is a crime against (my) nature, the yours truly who thinks that the only stars I want to sleep under are FIVE, and those belong to the lovely Hilton family?


It was that bad. Worse than that, actually.

It's three days of my life which are only justified because I've got this post to write about them.

Of course no camping trip would be a camping trip without a fabulous cast of characters with which to share this experience, so here are a few of the more interesting types:

Prozac Princess - who not only wore full make-up the entire time (including a hideous bright pink lipstick which even *I* knew did not suit her), but she announced in the first ten seconds we knew her that whatever pharmaceuticals we needed, she had on hand. Seriously. "I've got everything you could need. I'm a walking pharmacy! Prozac, Vicodin, OxyContin, Ritalin, Voltaren, Panadein Forte, anything illegal you can think of,  uppers, downers, pain killers, Viagra - you name it, I've got it." She then went on to proudly tell us how she only recently stopped taking SIX Voltaren a day for a shoulder injury. Voltaren - an anti-inflammatory drug - has an over the counter dosage of TWO tablets a day. For some people even those two will send them into la-la-land, and this woman drives her kids around while under the influence of SIX of those buggers. Good Lord. She did not stop carrying on endlessly about her pharmacy of goods which she proudly told us about and offered to share. She also apparently suffers from an endless array of ailments - or she has an endless array of doctors who prescribe that stuff ...because, geez, really, who needs that much? I know camping is painful, but not THAT painful, surely. It was amazing. ANY problem you have - medical or otherwise - the Prozac Princess had a solution for it, as long as the solution was prescribable and came in a blister pack. I'm all for self-medicating (via Oreo cookies, generally) but this was just insane - and insane too because she is one of the most insecure people I've ever met, unable to make a decision or go anywhere without the assistance of her friend (who, entertainingly, had the same name as she did but pronounced differently.) The Prozac Princess was - well...yes. Under the influence of both her same-name friend and her little blue friends.

Little Suzy Sunshine - At the end of the second endless day of rain and wind and boredom, we were all sitting around under the (wet, dripping, cold) mess tent (and by 'tent' I mean useless tarp held up by a ridiculous amount of ropes and poles) and feeling pretty damn sorry for ourselves (and our children.) Someone (probably me) had the gall to have a bit of a whinge about it, to which Little Suzy Sunshine took offence and basically told the group of us off. We weren't setting a good example for the children. We weren't coming up with activities to keep them busy. We weren't participating enough. We weren't acting happy enough, weren't having enough of a 'go' of it, weren't trying our hardest to show our children that we might be miserable but we are not giving up. In short, "WE" were being shit mothers and should all be sitting there pretending to have the time of our lives and loving every minute of this experience called HELL ON EARTH. Yes, because pre-teens are not smart enough to see right through that shit. Funnily enough I didn't see her suggest a rousing game of Charades, either. So - we let her say her piece and then she walked away. I'm shocked she did not fall over from the sheer weight of daggers poking out of her back.

Tuna Patty - At lunch on the second day, I sat across from Tuna Patty. Lunch was actually pretty okay, just some sandwiches and salad...but Tuna Patty was sitting in front of me eating a tin of tuna. Actually a tin of tuna mixed with 3 bean mix. She ate it with one of those itty-bitty plastic spoons (the sort they attach to on-the-go yoghurt containers.) As in a spoon so small you can fit ONE bean on there at a time. I must have given her a bit of a look (of course I did. Who am I kidding?) because she laughed and self-consciously told me that she wasn't sure what sort of food there would be on camp (hint: not Michelin-starred) and she likes what she likes, and what she likes is tuna, so she BYO her tuna. "So," I say (shit stirrer that I am), "Do you have any food issues, or do you just prefer to eat healthily?" She had the good grace to look sheepish. "Um, bit of both I guess." She then went on to tell me how she and her sickeningly fit husband went on a week-long hike in Tasmania several years (!) ago, and how every meal was tuna, and she loved it but everyone else hated it.  Tuna Patty then went on to eat a tin of tuna and three bean mix (and nothing else) at every single meal without fail. Even on the beach when we had a BBQ on the last day. All I've got to say is, THANK GOD I don't have to share a bed with this woman or get close enough to smell her breath. I'm guessing the hubby went on the week-long hike in the hopes of getting some fresh air.

There were a few more - including Early Riser, Showering Scotswoman, and Irritatingly Helpful Mother ...but I'll spare you the details of all of them. Suffice to say it was the longest weekend of my life. You know things are dire when even the Scouts themselves - whose whole reason for living is to spend their time suffering through outdoor pursuits, no matter how wet or painful it might be - were starting to lose patience with the entire thing. When the most exciting thing you do all weekend is learn how to swing an axe and have the Scout Leader shout at you about why you're doing it ALL WRONG and you need to LISTEN TO ME, YOUR AXE WIELDING IS ALL WRONG....well, is it no wonder that even the strongest of the strong willed boys were looking at their mothers as if to say, "You made me join Scouts because it's meant to be FUN, right? You call this fun?"

If the wet, cold, rain, mud and boredom were not enough....nobody told me that camping requires a ridiculous amount of STUFF. As in trailers and trailers worth of stuff. And that not enough you need to stand there, at midnight, in the howling wind, watching your fingers get torn to shreds as you valiantly hold onto a guy rope in the hopes that the fucking mess tent does not blow away AGAIN - but then, three days later, you've got to pack all that shit up again.

You've got to dig up the stakes, roll up the ropes, fold the tents, shove the sleeping bags in, pack up the food, unhook the gas cylinders, count the poles, unhook the poles, gather up the lanterns....it was definitely a man who decided that doing this was somehow meant to be fun and, dare I say it, relaxing. Not enough you spend an entire day unpacking, and then a day packing, you've got to then unpack it all again at the other end - and did I mention then unpacking the tents and sleeping bags so they can dry properly, then packing them up AGAIN? Everyone knows packing sucks, and yet here is an activity which requires you to do it six times for every one night you're going to spend sleeping in the great outdoors.

In short, there is not one single redeeming quality about camping. Not ONE. But, there was some good news - my son and I got to spend some time suffering together, although someone nicer might call it "bonding."

And the bad news? Mum and Cub camp happens every two years. Here's hoping my socks might dry out by then.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

Your post was, of course, amusing, but I am sorry you had such a bad time of it.

It shows clearly your love and devotion to your offspring.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Well, I'm alive, he's alive, and I got a good story out of it - so maybe not such a bad time after all. :)