Thursday, May 24, 2012

lessons in humility, acceptance and not being a moron

Yesterday at dinner time we decided to go camping. Spontaneously! With twins!  Never mind our carefully constructed routine or the fact that the girls had already had a wildly exciting day and hadn't napped or that it was dinner time or that we have 18 month old toddlers who have never been camping or that the campsite was an hour's drive away and it was rush hour or that it was just a stupid idea, we were being spontaneous!

Summer arrived in the UK yesterday. More dramatically still, summer arrived in Glasgow. I can't tell you how long it's been since we had summer, roughly 3 years maybe? And I can't tell you how much we have missed camping, it's something that we love and that we couldn't wait to do with the girls. Never mind people's raised eyebrows, we were going to be Cool Family That Doesn't Bat An Eyelid at Camping With Toddlers. Spontaneously. 

Well we hadn't reckoned on Amelia. Which was silly, as we've had 18 months to come to terms with Amelia, 18 months which has mostly been spent figuring out what she needs to happen for her to go to sleep at night. What she needs does not include a spontaneous camping trip that starts at dinner time. Girl LOVED the campsite, LOVED the tent, LOVED the food and the wild and the trees and the horses and the wigwams at the campsite. Girl loved them so much that there was no way in hell she was ever ever going to go to sleep despite the fact that she was falling flat on her face with tiredness. We thought that eventually, when she was tired enough, she would join the rest of us in our cosy pile of limbs and sleeping bags (Ella, after ten minutes of trying out different corners of the tent, settled happily in her daddy's armpit and started nodding off to sleep.) But an hour later she was not only ricocheting off the sides of the tent, she was screaming too. Which kind of sucked for the other campers who had travelled from Belgium and America to walk the West Highland Way and were getting up in the morning to continue their 96 mile trek. 

So we packed up and came home. Which was embarrassing. I'd thought that we were so damn cool, camping with our kiddos, we were one of those families who other families admire and think 'wow, they're so carefree, they haven't let having kids stop them from having adventures'. In other words I was a smug, self-congratulating  moron. 

The thing is, I've never once felt like we have let having kids stop us from having adventures, I had just become fixated on the idea that camping had to be one of them. Camping was my status adventure, the one I would take beautiful pictures of and blog about and bask in the congratulations of my readers for being So Cool (I know, I know, I hate myself too).

Despite the embarrassment of packing up and coming home I'm actually really glad that we went, for a few reasons. One, until we tried to go to sleep we had so much fun, in fact I don't think that the girls have ever had more fun in their lives. Watching them rampaging and exploring was one of my happiest moments as a parent. Oh and Ella called out for Ammie when she couldn't see her around the side of the tent, 'Me Moo? Meeee Moo?' and my heart exploded with love. Two, we realllllllly needed to break out of our routine, do something that was neither work or agonising over selling our house, which is pretty much all we've done for a month. But thirdly, and most importantly, I learnt some lessons in humility (see above) and acceptance.  Accepting that one of our children just doesn't deal with huge amounts of change and excitement as well as I might like and that it's our responsibility to look out for her and not to throw her things she can't deal with just because we think that if they worked out they would be really fun. I've always thought that we had accepted that Amelia is just slightly harder work than Ella (most of the time, Ella has her moments, her 'exorcist moments' as I like to think of them) but I feel like yesterday was one of those eye-opening moments when you realise that you still had a little way to go before you were quite the person/parent/whatever that you wanted to be and that you might have just made it a step closer. Which is kind of cool. 

(our camping bible - maybe this face should have been a warning - rocking the neon trend - exploring - the builder - "hullo, buh bye" - 10pm, an escapee - Going Home.)