there comes a time in a young father’s life when he realizes that his son (or daughter) is all grown up and won’t be asking for advice any longer, you know somewhere around 16 or 17. for me, that day came a couple of weekends ago when i took my 2 1/2 year old son, jake, on his first camping trip at leo carillo state campground, just outside of malibu, california. jake has amazed me for some time, but this is the first real one on one time we have had in a long time. we had the whole weekend together. i felt like i was spending time with a 5 year old.
when it was time to unpack the tent, i heard “daddy, can i help you?”, when it was time to stick the stakes in the ground, “daddy can i help you?”, when it was time to put the sleeping bags in the tent, “daddy can i help you?” jake has always been a good helper but this time it just seemed different, he just seemed more mature. when i was lighting the campfire, he stood there and said “can i say a pear?” 4 or 5 times and i really couldn’t figure out what he was saying, then it hit me. he wanted to say a “prayer” because he remembered when he and mom would light the minorah and they would recite the jewish prayer. he said ashare a couple of times (which is more than i can remember) and i think i said something about sleeping through the night, so in essence we did say a prayer. i was in awe.
then, when we were sitting across the picnic table from each other, my back was closest to the fire , i asked him if he wanted to come over and sit next to me closer to the fire as it was getting a little cold. he waved his hand around and said “no, i like to sit here and look at all this.” what he was referring to was the trees and the mountains in the background. yes, he definately had the better seat and even at 2 1/2 years old, he knew it. that, he surely gets from his mother.
he listened to everything i had to say and when i asked him to do something, he would do it. i never had to repeat myself (and for the record he is pretty good at home too, but as anyone who has had kids will tell you, they don’t always, shall we say, listen). at night, while sleeping in the tent, we both lay on our new air mattress (yes, i’ve prided myself as a die hard camper who would never use an airmatress, but what can i say, kids?), i realized jake is a real snuggler. we don’t share a family bed at home so i’ve never spent the night with him and i have to say it was one of the more special things i can remember about the weekend. i woke up at one point and he is strewn across my stomach, completely asleep. another time he was nuzzled under my arm. by the way, he is a super sleeper and this was no exception.
the point of all this, GO CAMPING! i really mean it. in that short weekend, i feel like we bonded in a way that we hadn’t before. i’ve moved up the airstream on my priority list to have it finished be the end of the summer. our whole family will be going on a camping trip at the end of april to new mexico and in october we’ll be going to the world famous balloon fiesta in albequerque, new mexico. i’m really excited about enjoying the outdoors with my family. it doesn’t get any better than that!