There are times when I hate being 46. Like this weekend, when I had this great plan to surprise the boys with a new tent. It arrived Wednesday in a large box, which I placed in the middle of the kitchen on Thursday night. They would wake up, plod out for breakfast, see this huge box with AWESOME NEW TENT in big, black letters on the side, and freak out! Thank you thank you thank you, Dad! It's Christmas in May! Just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, so we can camp out and sleep in, and pretend we're in our secure bunker fending off alien ninja spider turtles and YOU'RE THE BEST DAD EVER!
They didn't do any of that.
In fact, they woke up and walked right past it. Six or seven times. This three-foot-tall box in the center of the house's traffic pattern. A few times, I talked with them as they munched their English muffins and took pains to move the box a few inches here and there, so they might be curious (or annoyed) enough to wonder what the hell I was doing with that whateveritwas.
I wanted to create some semblance of anticipation before they left the house for school, so I said, "Hey, look. What does it say on that box there?" And Robert said, "It says it's a ... tent? Cool." And TwoBert said, "Is this a surprise? Because I think it's a tent!"
A tent it surely was.
Hours later, we had the thing set up and ready for action, and the pork butt was smoking in the Weber, and after a great meal the kids schlepped sleeping bags and pillows and ten books about global domination (Robert) and two dozen stuffed animals (TwoBert) and flashlights and LEGOs and the bathroom plunger and everything else you might need to repel alien ninja spider turtles.
And we camped out. And I spent the entire night inhaling spores and sneezing them out again, to the detriment of the brain parts that govern sleep. Of which there was very little.
I might have recovered more readily from this in my camping heyday, when my hair flowed full and thick atop my head and Mark Zuckerberg was teething. But now, at 46, it's taken me four days to restore some semblance of perception and motor skills.
There was also the dissonant aspect of having a tablet in the tent with me, so I was at least able to read and listen to baseball and watch George Carlin videos while sneezing violently into anything padded. The downside is that, when you reach for it when it's finally light again, in that sliver of time before you release the slide-lock, the tablet functions as a mirror that shows you just how trollish you look after 90 minutes of sleep. A cautionary tale for the early 21st century, to be sure.
After I mentioned that I'm still coping with these allergies, my friend told me to "get some dark local honey." And I thought, OK. Maybe she can score me some Claritin.