|Always the Fisherman
Whereas our son is a born fisherman—mosquito bites and all—his father is not. However on vacation in New Brunswick, Canada, everyone needs to enjoy his or herself. So while the men drove off in the van to go fishing, we ladies stayed at camp and tried to entertain ourselves.
No pool or playground at this campground, and the mosquitoes were indeed biting. It was a hot and sticky evening, so the four girls and I sat around one of the dinette tables, two to a bench seat, the youngest pulled up the port-a-potty at the head of the table. We chatted about our options for entertainment while a small fan dried our backs slightly as it swung from side to side.
“Let’s play go fish,” the twin on the potty suggested.
“Great idea,” the oldest girl agreed. “Where are the cards?”
“They’ve got to be somewhere,” I said. “Everyone off your perch to search for them.”
The girls scattered. We searched in the dinette drawers. I rummaged through the bench seat storage compartments. The girls dumped their backpacks and raked through the contents.
We all returned to the dinette table, dripping and exhausted. We sat, breathing heavily, allowing the fan to dry some sweat. No one spoke.
Once we regained our wind and cooled down slightly, I said, “The cards must be in the van.”
The girls nodded in unison. “Daddy has the van,” they said.
“It’s okay,” I told them. “What else could we do?”
“How about drawing or coloring pictures,” my artist, one of the twins, suggested.
“I think I have colored pencils in my backpack,” the artist said. She still didn’t move.
“No you don’t,” her twin countered. “You…”
“Don’t tell me,” our second daughter said. “You left them in the van.”
“Right.” We all agreed.
Night was falling and a cacophony of insect noises ensued. The only sound in the camper was the rotating fan.
“How about Hang the Man?” One of the girls suggested.
Everyone sat there and thought, for it was too hot to exert ourselves again.
“Pencils and paper are in the van, too,” I said.
“Probably,” the girls agreed.
“Wait,” I said and stood up. A smile crossed my sweaty face.
The girls looked up with anticipation.
“Let’s go to the camp store and buy some ice cream. I know the laundry money’s here.” I turned to open the silverware drawer by the sink.
“I think I have some money, too,” the oldest piped up.
“Me, too,” said our second daughter.
“Bring it all to the table, girls,” I said as I lifted out the plastic silverware tray. I heard coins plunking down on the dinette table behind me as I raked my fingers along the drawer bottom only to find 50 Canadian cents. When I returned to the table, I saw pouty faces and 53 Canadian cents on the table.
“I must have done laundry recently,” I said.
“About two days ago,” my oldest reminded me.
I nodded and sighed. “I guess the money’s in…”
“The van,” the girls said in unison.
I hated to see the girls so disappointed. “We’ll all go to the camp store when the men returned,” I promised.
“But until then,” I said with a smile, “I’ll tell a story.”
Finally, smiles returned to their faces.
Impromptu storytelling, especially when camping with the family—no outside distractions—can be fun. Just as when entertaining the children on long road trips, the stories do not have to make sense. This is a time to let your imagination soar. If everyone would rather listen to one storyteller, as in my situation, take audience requests. Allow the children to give the storyteller the plot details. To enhance visualization, pepper the story with familiars that the audience knows.
The girls wanted to hear a romance between star-crossed lovers and a millennium dance. Our romance story continued until the men returned in the van from their fishing expedition covered in mosquito bites.
While our son bubbled over about his adventures fishing, I placated my husband’s sour mood with a suggestion for the family to visit the camp store ice creamery. The smile returned to his mosquito-bitten face only after most of his banana split was gone.