We’re going camping over Memorial Day weekend. Sam, Ben, Ruth, and I have a site reserved at a campground not far from where we live. When they were much younger, I took the kids camping, usually one at a time, a handful of times. We’d arrive in the early evening, pitch the tent, cook supper, go to bed early (they were little), wake up, make breakfast, explore the campground a little, break camp, and go home.
This upcoming trip is going to be different from when they were little. Instead of one small child and me, there will be three teenagers and me. Instead of one night under the stars, we’ve reserved our spot for Friday through Monday. I think that’s nine meals! Instead of getting there in one car, two of us will ride up in the Jeep along with the gear and Frank will follow us with the other two. If things go horribly wrong, we’ll be stuck there (or at least our stuff will be stuck there) until he can come get us.
I’m trying not to worry about the experience. However, trying not to worry isn’t working. I read a tweet from Michael Hyatt yesterday that was a quote from some book, “Forty percent of what we worry about never happens.” Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson. I follow him on twitter because he’s become a social media guru in the publishing world. It’s never occurred to me to respond to his tweets. But to the one quoted above, I couldn’t help typing, “@MichaelHyatt That means sixty percent of what I worry about will happen. This worries me.”
Here’s some of what I worry about:
- I worry that we’re going to either run out of food;
- I worry that the food we have is going to be inedible after we prepare it;
- I worry that we’re going to get bored;
- I worry that it’s going to rain so much that everything we have will get soaked and we’ll be miserable;
- I worry that we’ll get cold;
- I worry that we’ll get hot;
- I worry we’ll be eaten up by bugs.
The whole thing sounds so miserable. So why is it that I’m doing this? If I’m honest, it’s because the one worry that trumps all the others is that I worry about what life will be like when these wonderful kids are grown and gone. No matter what happens this weekend, whether we stay for the full three days or for only three hours, in my mind this camping trip has become an opportunity to create a memory. It’s going to be a time when we all take a break from our usual habits: tv, Internet surfing, World of Warcraft, Wii. It’s going to be a time when Dad doesn’t bark the usual commands: “Get your dirty clothes out of the bathroom; set the table; mow the yard; take out the trash.” Instead, I’ll bark different commands, like: “Wash off your plate; Close the tent flap; Watch out for that snake!”
I’m kidding. I hope it’s going to be a time when this effort to disconnect from our usual lives lets us reconnect with each other.
Do I have unrealistic expectations about this camping trip? Yea. I do. But I promise this: between now and tomorrow afternoon when we leave—no, before then, because we’ll be making lists and shopping and packing and such as we prepare to leave—I promise to do my best to be a different, non-barking-orders Dad. I’m going to make a transition toward becoming a more patient, gently-suggesting Dad.
I’m also going to take my credit card just in case we need to check into a motel.