Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tenting tonight and babysitting grandchildren

"We're tenting tonight on the old camp-ground
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home
And friends we love so dear.

Tenting tonight, tenting tonight
Tenting on the old camp-ground."
                                        Walter Kittridge, 1863


Back when I was younger, I used to love tromping off into the White Mountains of New Hampshire and spend several days in a tent.  

Now I prefer the nearest hotel.  More precisely, my body demands it.  Heck, I have enough difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.  It is an exercise of moaning, stretching, groaning, stumbling, and, yes, occasionally using bad language.

The last time I went camping was in 2006 on a three-day adventure with my son (before grandchildren) in the Marion National Forest. 

While the traditional male bonding element was wonderful, I also learned a few things on that trip.
  1. Planet Earth is covered with ground that has hardened considerably in the last 35 years.
  2. Foam rubber mats for sleeping on this ground are completely overrated and basically useless.
  3. Brian and I both roll around in our sleep more than either of us knew previously.
  4. Watching sleeplessly through a crack in the tent for any signs of dawn only makes the sun laugh and slow down in its orbit.
  5. Never burn all your firewood the night before bedding down because it will be too chilly to go and find some the next morning -- plus it will be covered with dew.
  6. Dew does not burn.
Although we had planned three (maybe even four days) of adventure, shortly after discovering items 5 and 6, we began talking about Karen's pancakes and fresh brewed coffee and we were back home by 10:00 a.m.

Camping aside, the last time I was in a tent was this Christmas.  We bought the grandchildren a small, inexpensive tent that they could play in. 

They loved it!

They ran around and crawled and wrestled in it.

By the time Christmas dinner was over, they had pretty much destroyed it. 

Which brings us to Monday of this week. 

Since I am now retired, I am identified as the only person without a job.  This apparently means that I have nothing to do and am always available to watch the kids. Don't get me wrong.  I love grandparenting but these boys are a handful and 4-month old Kay is a bit demanding in her own way. 
Up until Monday I had never been truly challenged since either:

  1. Karen was always home when we had all three or
  2. I would only have Kay OR the boys BUT never all three together.
Monday was the Super Diggy Grandfather Challenge!

After the initial diaper changing (I dispensed with neatness and left diapers wherever they fell) and breakfast feeding (cheerios and orange peels all over the livingroom floor), I began the entertainment phase.  

The boys had already figured out that I couldn't be in three places at once and were sacking the house like true crusaders.  And in some closet where I had forgotten it, they pulled out the unerectable Christmas tent and presented it.  There were no flexible poles with the tent because they under a pile on my desk waiting for a duck tape experiment which is already doomed to failure. 

Faced with the tragedy of not getting their way, the boys employed their most effective tactic -- crying combined with ear-splitting screams.   Kay joined in but only because her diaper was wet.   Again.

If necessity is the mother of invention, parental panic is the father.   And so I joined the crusading Huns and we sacked the garage.  We came away with our loot -- rope and the oversized tarp.

We converted the playroom upstairs.

We even had a picnic lunch under the tent -- but I hope their parents don't see this blog and realize that lunch consisted of bowls of candy.  But, hey!  I was outnumbered as you can tell by Conner's conquering smile.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon praying that I wouldn't get a call from a realtor who had a client that wanted to see our house.



  1. Your best post yet! You are the best grandpa and I wish I had had you for my grandpa when I was a kid. (On the other hand I am glad that I am not the wife that gets to come home to this.)

  2. Oh, my. Glad my grandson is 24 with no kids. And I still love camping in the wild.

  3. The last comment of yours was the first thing that came into my head as you started your tale. How brave you were to take them on. Made for a great story. They are so cute.

  4. I love the picture of the baby with one sock on, and one off!!!

  5. I especially loved (and laughed out loud at was) the description of your camping experience with the hard ground and dewy wood! ;-) What a great grandpa you are!

  6. Those grandkids of yours really can count themselves lucky to have you as their grandpa! As for camping - I am so with you. I want a proper bed and a shower in the morning.

  7. You are a wonderful grampa, and they will never forget you. ever. Bravo.

  8. Bagman is a really good grandpa - does he realize that. When my two were little we lived in a 10 ft wide trailor - My sun had asthma and needed to be 'tented' - so I used to make a big one in the living room and the kids and I would climb in with his humidifier and spend the day playing and reading.... they love it each and every time.