I haven’t locked my keys in my car in such a long time. A very, very long time. I’ve never locked my keys in my car in the middle of nowhere.
I’d like to tell you that I really handled this like a Champion of Calm Thinking.
But I can’t tell you that.
I panicked. I called Todd asking why he’d locked the car before he drove away. I had no answer to his question of why the keys were on the seat. I called my dad panicking even further. I spouted things like why me and stink in a bucket (I could have just said port-o-let…same thing). My middle children were watching this unfold. Of greater concern to them was the fact that their mom was about to check into Crazy Town. Keys? Eh. Mom going nuts? Um, that’s a problem.
After ranting on the phone to my dad for a few moments, he talked me away from the ledge and talked me into going down to the campfire to locate a wire hanger. I was pretty sure we could unlock it if there was a wire hanger in the camp.
There was, however, a smores skewer and a couple of dudes who know how to break into a vehicle in nothing flat.
Ten minutes after locating the dudes, a hammer, and the skewer, I was clutching my keys to my heart and handing my oldest boy his prized marshmallow shooter. Peace of mind was slow to return, but it began to creep back in. Gradually. [Sidebar: The Marshmallow Shooter was not the reason I needed to get into my car. There were a lot of essential items locked up for the night. We were going to need those. I may have mental lapses, but I’m not so attached to the PVC marshmallow gun.]
By this point, it was after 10 p.m. AG was not having anything to do with campfire ghost stories. Everyone needed a last stop at the port-o-potty. It was time to just accept our losses and hit the tent to decompress. I did head down to the fire briefly to say a heartfelt and humble thank you for the people who had pulled together to save me. And then we all walked back to the tent. Home sweet tent. It was a lengthy process trying to get everyone clean underwear and clean teeth. But we managed the backwoods version of both and climbed into our sleeping bags. AG was on the outskirts of the tent, watching Alvin and the Chipmunks on his iPod. Beloved was next to him, hunkered down in a brand new, orange sleeping bag. I had had to talk her out of the Jr. sized Tinkerbell bag and I am so glad I fought that battle. Disney. Don’t even get me started. For half the price I got a larger, plusher, warmer sleeping bag. Tinkerbell, schminkerbell. Then there was me and mamasboy. 4 happy campers lined up in a euphoric row. We were all so happy to just be flat-out finally. I don’t think AG stopped a single time all day, for anything. He was going at 100% all day long. His neck was sunburned. The rest of us were tired, too. We said a prayer together, told a quick story, and in less than 15 minutes, we left the train whistles, cobwebs, non-flushing toilets, and key crises behind us and slipped into the slumber of our lives. I didn’t move all night. I slept like a well-trained baby. And because I DO learn from my foibles, I had reset my alarm for 7:20 and we slept until it went off.
At 7:20 Sunday morning, that alarm did indeed go off. And at that precise moment, there were no less than 3 of us dying to use the bathroom. But it was still too chilly and damp to want to march down the hill to the you-know-what. When ALL other conditions are perfect, one can perhaps talk themselves into such atrocities. But when it is dark and damp outside, one begins to create other solutions. And that again opened me up to an opportunity for significant regret. There was a water bottle at the door of the tent. It was empty. It was also small. Normally, we tote the typical 16.9 oz bottles. This trip we toted a smaller 12 ounces. Don’t ask me why. I guess I wasn’t thinking of them as a multi-purpose bottle at the purchase point. Go ahead and think what you will. You can even say it out loud. This is a public blog and this is horrific information. But it is what it is and I had been through a lot with those stand-up sewage tanks. So I helped with bottle facilitation and Mamasboy did what he needed to do…about 13.5 ounces worth. It was so dark in the tent that we didn’t know we had exceeded the maximum 12 ounces until it was upon us. And both of us reacted the exact same way in the exact same moment. “Ohhhhhh…” But after that, he proceeded to cry and lament his station in life. I did not, though, at this point, I could have, I assure you. I tried to comfort him. We have clean underwear to change into. The weekend is over. We made it. All is well. None of that really worked. But a new voice piped in to take our minds off of it.
“I need to go, too, Mama,” AG said. Hmm. Well, as I’ve previously stated, I try not to make the same heinous mistake twice. I certainly don’t make the same one in the span of 5 minutes. So I unzipped the tent, used the keys that were not locked in the car, and retrieved an empty Gatorade bottle from the back seat. That’s 24 ounces of awesome. There were no issues with this bathroom stall.
By 8:30, our car was packed and we were dressed for church. Todd had been asked to say a few words from the Bible, so we walked down to the campfire and read from Psalm 73. Todd talked about integrity…about doing the right thing even if it doesn’t benefit you. Why does it seem that good people suffer? Why do evil people seem to have a gravy train to ride on? I don’t know. David didn’t know either. But He had God. And so do I. Always. All the mistakes in the world won’t erase that truth from my mind.
And that was the end of the weekend. I know I’ve painted a picture of utter fiasco and a mom who hates camping. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were a lot of things that went completely backwards. And there were things that made me cringe and bristle. But there were also sweet moments of a child reaching up to squeeze my hand on the 3 minute walk. And there were glances and smiles exchanged in a tent by the glow of a flashlight. And there were strange little conversations while sitting cross legged in a camp chair. And there was Merry Christmas dish soap that had all of us smelling like a freshly washed platter in December. And there was no television. And there were Orion and the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. And 45 horrific little s’more cookers trying to pass off their charred marshmallow remains on unsuspecting adults so they could start over and do it right. And there were piggy back rides that were much more fun for the rider than the piggy. And there were games of Cops and Robbers after dark by flashlight.
Aristotle once said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The sum of the parts had some problems. The whole was altogether good.
I wonder if Aristotle ever used a port-o-potty. Maybe that’s all he used…