There is an excitement to the beginning of summer. Its a time of wondrous opportunity and endless “what if’s”. Its a time for sleeping in, lemonade, and splashing around in any body of water that is available albeit lake, river or pool. Its supposed to be a time of family vacations, relaxation and good old chillin out. But in this age of instant gratification Internet and constant stimulation electronic media the kids just have one agenda: Entertain Me!
Now let me tell you we are an active family. We do alot of things. We do alot of things that don’t cost alot of money because I don’t see the point of going broke every summer with the Entertain Me mentality. I load them up for the $1 movies but then get flack for the movie being “old” or “outdated” cause they want to see Madagascar 3 for $1 not last years Yogi Bear. What every happened to “wow, we are at the movies and this is COOL”. Its always biggerbettermore for today’s youth.
We are avid campers. Its fun, its cheap and we get to go explore different areas all the time. We are trying to teach the kids to live w/out the TV and Wii and DS for at least 48 hours — to unplug them and see if we cut the electronic cord if they will wither and die. So far so good- haven’t lost one yet. Been on a few camping trips this summer and no one has perished from lack of electronic stimulus but in the woods the Entertain Me status reaches new heights. There is no “look at the trees, listen to the birds or look for rocks” like I remember. Its we need scooters, we need soccer balls we need we need we need we need. Do you what you need? To sit. To think. To relax and to breathe. Just Breathe. Breathe in the trees and the dirt and the lake and the food cooked over a fire. A real fire. One that mesmerizes your eyes while it dances over the wood.
We got alot of “we are bored” on the last camping trip. So we showed them how to play cards, sketch leaves and watch for bats at dusk. But the sugar from the s’mores always kicks in and we end up walking around the loop umteen times telling their sugar rushed heads to “sssssshhhhhhh, there are OTHER CAMPERS here that don’t need to be bothered with your s’more filled shrieks”. We really feel as if they just need to take a minute for what it is, a minute – and enjoy that minute where they are -doing what they are doing.
Don’t get me wrong, there is work associated to getting to those relaxing minutes by the campfire but that work isn’t cumbersome its just planning, executing and making sure the tent is up (shelter first). Cooking may take extra time but its over a FIRE and its cool. Its the Entertain Me status that is the most work of all. Entertain Me without TV or video games! Good luck cause that board game looks like it sounds — bored.
So, we are up with the birds and down at the lake fishing because that’s entertaining. Two with dad in the canoe and two with me on the pier. And the dogs illegally leashed in a corner of the pier because I am totally baffled as to what I am supposed to do with them while I entertain the minions. I am furiously baiting and rebaiting hooks because the bluegill and small mouth off the pier are master bait stealer’s when I hear a huge SPLASH. I am excited that its the most giant fish of all coming for that wormy tidbit on the end of my kids line but then I realize a leashed animal has launched herself off the pier and is frantically swimming in place still tied to said pier. I drop the bait and save the dog then continue to bait hooks with a pounding heart and the idea that the scene just played out in front of me will possibly be funny later on tonight by the fire. As I am contemplating the funniness of the dog jumping off the pier and baiting another hook to gently feed the bluegill I hear another SPLASH but this time have no delusions of grandeur that its a big fish. I turn and see dog #2 in the same swimming in place spot dog #1 had just been doing the exact same thing. I once again pull a soggy dog to the pier, this time with a baited hook embedded in my thumb and I think to myself — if this isn’t entertainment I Don’t Know what is!!
But instead of seeing those dog paddling in place as a possibly funny campfire story, especially with the fact mom had a fish hook shoved in her thumb they started with the following:
Why aren’t we catching BIGGER fish?
We forgot the water toys and I don’t know how to play in the water without toys so I am going to have a stress headache and pout in the shade.
I am going to say “I don’t like this” to every thing you try to feed me because I want to go get a hamburger at a fast food place (uh, nope, no way, nada)
I am not going to listen about the dangers of poison ivy and I am going to tromp thru any part of the woods I want.
I am going to go into hyper-drive since I don’t have electronic stimulation and be the biggest ADD bouncing off the trees (no walls, we are camping after all) mess you have seen in a LONG time.
It must be a perspective thing because from where I am sitting all that is pretty damn entertaining. Just seeing the diversity of whining is enough social experiment to keep me thinking for awhile. Thinking while sitting around the campfire and breathing and smelling and relaxing. Breathing, sitting, relaxing: This is the mantra of the unplugged non-Entertain Me summer – and it falls on deaf ears.
If they wanted entertainment they should have made the 6:15a bathroom march with me on Day 2 of camping. I am taking an ansty dog (the chipmunks are very active and chatty at 6:15a) and a full bladder on the 200 yard walk to the FLUSH potty (yea for no outhouse) when a shirtless, tattooed man comes up from behind me. Naive me, thinking its another camper smiles and keeps walking. Then Shirtless Tattoo starts talking to me about where the closest town is to the campground. Me, thinking he needs ice or a fishing license politely says “I am not sure, my husband was driving and I was reading a book and I totally wasn’t paying attention as to how we got here (see, I was already shutting down MY brain before we even got to the campsite). But you can ask the camp host – they are in site 601 and they know the local area quite well”. He looks at me and says “thank you” and keeps walking in my general direction. We pass a bend in the road and I see a Sheriff’s car parked in a campsite and I think “wow, that’s odd”.
Apparently Shirtless Tattoo thinks its odd too because he takes off at a full sprint while said Sheriff is busting out of her car talking into the radio says “Suspect is spotted in the 700 loop of North Kettle Moraine, Long Lake” and she takes off at a full sprint after him. Naive me, dumbfounded, was kinda glad at my lack of attention getting to the campground because I didn’t want to be the one pointing a fugitive in the direction of the nearest bus stop! Although I don’t think there were many buses that run thru the local town since the entertainment there last weekend was a Pig Wrestling Contest with a Rib Cookout and PBR.
Now if that’s not entertainment I don’t know what is!! I am not sure why the kids were “bored” or went to Entertain Me status because I was having a very stimulus filled weekend in the woods! I have told several friends about my brush with danger while headed to the pisser and everyone has said “wow, I am glad he didn’t hurt you”. And to this I am thinking “HUH, no one would attack a fat woman with an audacious pier jumping dog who’s spent two unshowered nights in a tent”. I guess I am just still naive but thoroughly entertained by the scenario.
In conclusion, the kids survived yet another unplugged weekend with their minds and spirits intact. They will hopefully eventually find a way to be Entertained with out the need for electronics because I will not stop unplugging them for Summer Adventure weekends. I will point out the symmetrical beauty of a spider web, I will patiently wait for the bats to come at dusk and I will put a band-aid over my fish-hook thumb while I wait for the next daring move by the insane dogs. And I will be entertained by it all.