Tomorrow, we the Kendrick family are going camping in North Carolina with some friends. We have not camped since we moved to Spartanburg, and Emma is very excited about it. Just Emma.
The rest of us have our various reasons for un-excitement.
Justin: It requires sleeping in a tent.
Susan: I would be excited if all of our clothes and camping equipment could magically pack themselves and then set themselves up in an organized manner once we get to the campground. And the food would magically cook itself, and then the cooking utensils would magically clean themselves. And when I had to pee at 3 in the morning, a clean bathroom would magically appear in the tent so I didn’t have to stumble around in the cold and dark night. Apparently I want to camp only if Harry Potter is with me.
Will: Two words: College Football. Are you kidding me?
Jack: We will be outside. In the dark. There will be animals very close by, waiting to pounce.
Jack is seven years old. He has a few anxiety triggers: fire drills at school make him nervous, he hates Halloween and all things spooky, and he does not like to be outside at night. Hates it, in fact. When we eat outside on the screened-in porch at our house with all of the lights on and the living room just a glass door away, he opts to eat inside by himself in the kitchen. He will come out only to ask us to come back in with him. Crickets chirping happily in the night freak Jack out, so the idea of raccoons or – dare I say it – bears tromping around in the wilderness, looking for something to eat, sends his little anxiety meter right through the roof. He asked if there would be bears and frankly, we can’t rule bears out, so we just said we doubted it. Not exactly what he wanted to hear.
Justin and I hope that the fun of sitting around the campfire with friends roasting marshmallows and talking (please, do not even think about telling ghost stories) will offset the scariness of the Dark Outdoors. He is seven, after all, and getting a little bit braver every day. I am bringing some sleeping pills just in case the whole bravery thing doesn’t pan out. One for me and one for Jack.