We took Kaylee camping for the first time over the weekend. We were invited by my parents, who have been hoarding camping equipment for the past few months in anticipation of a large family camping trip.
While we were kind of excited about going camping –- Rob and I had never camped together –- we were nervous about taking our three-month-old baby along. What if she got cold? What if she were attacked by West Nile-infected mosquitoes? What if she were kidnapped by wolves and raised by them, only to be discovered years later and brought back to civilization by a well-meaning zoologist, with hilarious results?
My parents and friends assured us that, really, this is a good age for taking kids camping, because they’re too young to wander off and fall in a river. And as long as you keep them fed and slathered with sunscreen, not much can happen. So we packed up our car, took the dogs to Rob’s mom’s house for the weekend, picked up Uncle Tim, and drove off into the wilderness.
Shortly after we got there, my mom recommended that we keep Kaylee’s formula in the car so it wouldn’t attract bears. Bears?!? Nobody mentioned bears before. And wouldn’t a bear kind of ignore the formula and go after the tasty human that’s too tiny to run away?
Of course, the only bear we saw was Kaylee, who was dressed in a bear hoodie and wasn’t scary at all. (Although her newly-learned growl can be kind of intimidating.)
For the most part, camping was a fun change of pace from spending the weekend watching TV on the couch. We played cards, roasted marshmallows and grilled hamburgers while Kaylee stared at the campfire and occasionally napped.
The trouble started when we decided to call it a night and go to sleep. Kaylee had already been asleep in her portable crib for a while, snug in sweats and a couple of blankets. After the rest of us had been asleep for a couple of hours, I started waking up every few minutes because I’d gotten very, very cold. That made me worry about Kaylee, so when my mom noticed that the baby’s hands were cold, I brought her to bed with me and Rob. I’m sure this was nice for Kaylee, but it meant that I spent the night with a stiff shoulder, constantly concerned about keeping the comforter pulled up to just the right spot –- to her shoulders but not over her face –- and having dreams about frozen babies in the rare moments when I was actually able to sleep.
Lately, Kaylee’s been sleeping a solid 10 hours or so without waking up at night –- and yes, I know, we’re very lucky to have a baby who sleeps so well. And when she wakes up, it’s in stages: a few squeaks, followed by some grunts, a little bit of babbling, and then crying if we haven’t responded yet. But on Saturday night, she woke up about every three hours and skipped immediately to full-on screaming every time.
And of course, the formula was in the car. So feeding her required putting on shoes, carrying her across the campsite to the car, and allowing her to project her voice across the entire campground to the annoyance of other campers and the intrigue of all the bears. But at least we got to sit in the car with the heater on for a while.
By morning, Kaylee was happy and rested, and most of the adults were exhausted and much, much worse for the wear.
Ultimately, though, I guess I’d say it was a successful, fun camping trip, as we all cheered up after the sun came up and warmed the chill out of our bones.
But we won’t be going again this year. We’ll wait until Kaylee’s old enough to run from the bears, when I won’t have to worry about her crying for a bottle in the middle of the night. Then I’ll only have to worry about her sticking her hands in the fire, getting lost in the woods, drowning in a river, falling off a cliff, walking into a tree, getting bitten by a snake . . .