Back in May our church was scheduled to have a Father/Son campout. Timothy and I were planning to go, and Timothy was so excited for the day. He knew it was coming weeks ahead of time, and he would often ask me: "How many days until the camping trip?
Margaret and I talked about Andrew going. She wanted me to take him. Being the one who was actually going camping, there was no way I was going to take a 20 month old with me, especially one who still has a hard time sleeping in his own bed oftentimes. However, when my friend Dave called the day before the trip and asked if he and his 10 month old could tag along with us, I was backed into a corner. Margaret was ever so excited to have a night to herself. Timothy was excited to go camping, and I was excited, because the best part of this trip in years past is sitting by the fire after all the kids are asleep and getting to really know the other dads in our congregation.
Of course the most important part about the father/son campout is the bonding experience between fathers and sons, but I feel the chance to get to know other dads may be almost as important. I have always had a hard time really "getting to know" the other men in our congregation. We're all busy. Many of them are doing advanced training in medicine, or in law school. Most of us have young children at home, and when we get a chance we want to spend our time with them. We also all have responsibilities in the church that take a considerable amount of our time. We really don't get that many chances to just talk and get to know each other. That was the part I was looking forward to.
However, the Friday of the camping trip we got horrible storms in our little corner of Iowa. There was thunder, lightning, hail and the threat of tornadoes. Wisely, the camping trip was called off. The last place I would want to be in a tornado is a tent in the middle of a large open field at the youth campground. However, when I got home and told Timothy that the trip was cancelled, he looked at me with the dejected eyes of someone whose puppy had just died, and then after about a 5 second delay, began to ball.
I held Timothy for a long time then. My heart broke. He had been looking forward to this trip for over a month. It would be a year until the next father/son campout. Then, I came up with a plan.
We kicked mom out of the house (she was allowed upstairs in her bedroom only)
We moved all the furniture out of the living room
And we put the tent up inside.
I fired up the grill on our back porch and cooked the hot dogs and banana boats in the rain. We played cards, we talked, we made funny faces at each other with flashlights. We stayed up late (way past my bedtime, let alone Timothy's). And the best part about camping in the living room, we were able to watch Toy Story 3 on the TV.
And for those of you wondering, I even avoided the temptation of going to my own bed after Timothy fell asleep, and chose to spend the night in the tent with Timothy, just as we had planned.
This past weekend, we finally were able to do an outdoor father/son activity to sort of "make up" for the missed camping. (Not that we missed out on camping, or that anything had to be made up for, it was just nice to be outside).
Iowa had a free fish weekend, in which you were allowed to fish even if you did not have an Iowa fishing license. I grew up on a lake, and would spend nearly every day with a pole in the water before it got too hot in the summer. I LOVE fishing. However, I don't get to go often enough. When I really get an itch, I can talk Margaret into bringing a book and joining me by a lakeside, but I don't go often enough to justify paying for the license. So this was perfect. Timothy had never been before, and once again, he was excited.
Our church had planned an activity on a Friday night and reserved a section of a nearby lake. Only a couple of families showed up, but the morning of the trip the first words out of Timothy's mouth were "Daddy, today is fishing day". I had bought Timothy his very own fishing pole for the trip (with Spiderman on it) and I was nearly as giddy as Timothy. We went again on Saturday night, and Margaret and Andrew joined us.
Timothy did not want to touch the worms or the fish, but he was perfectly happy holding his pole, and it turns out, he's a really good net man. He even caught two fish. He wanted pictures, but said he would only hold the fish if they were in the net. They were two little baby bass, but they were fish nonetheless.