School is Out Forever. What Now?

The idea was to create some much-needed distance between Things #1 and #2. This came as a normal consequence of the emotional friction created by two teen brothers forced to share a small(ish) space. It was further inspired by the news that local schools here in BC are closed indefinitely (thanks, Obama).

Like most of my plans, it started organically (without a plan). Having taken my second extended dog walk of the day I found myself back in the garage with the far-from-unfinished task of unpacking after our recent move. I came across a large box with no markings. I opened it to find the tent I had recently found at the “take it if you want it” table at our local recycling center. It seemed like a good tent. I knew at the time that we already had a tent, but thought it was likely now a bit funky as it had been stationed on the basement floor when our last house flooded. I recall moving the soggy bag of tent outside. I didn’t recall any other remediation.

So the new-to-me tent was soon erected in our new backyard and the inspiration was born to lure Thing #2 away for a night of movies under the stars (which were unseen, above the tent and behind the clouds but, presumably, there). Thing #2 readily agreed. Thing #1, one step ahead, smiled and crept upstairs to his now solo lair.

About an hour later, having just filled the second inflatable mattress for my side of the tent (the first was already feeling spongy) we settled in for educational television. In Thing #2’s view this is the series of idiotic compiliations on YouTube that he is not supposed to watch unless I’m present. He views this rule as a guideline, which showed via his ready command of the subject matter.

It’s March here in BC, and everywhere. I bring that up because my friends here have all talked for months about how things get significantly warmer in March. I had no idea what my freebie-tent was rated in terms of temperature, but it quickly became clear that our sleeping bags meant for Texas were not up for BC’s idea of spring. I labored to exit the tent and rummaged through the house attempting to find blankets.

The night passed. It did not do so quickly. Every movement provided an opportunity for arctic air to seize the opening and numb somewhat tender flesh.

I awoke with a question from Thing #2, who had pulled a spare blanket over his head. “Can I come over there with you?”

I thought about the possible responses. It was nice that Thing #2 still liked me enough to steal my body heat. On the other hand, I was freezing. Opening the system of blankets I had created would allow in still more cold air. Did I really like Thing #2 enough to allow this?

It took me a moment but I eventually did reach the conclusion that he was worth the additional pain. The second Thing #2 joined me he asked, “Daddy, why are we on the ground?”

It became clear to me that both of the aged, inflatable mattresses had failed me–which might explain the pain I felt throughout my body. When did I buy these mattresses? It seemed like MTV still had music videos… I probably can’t blame Coleman for this one. I thought back to all of the aged camping equipment my father-in-law had refused to part with and sent his memory a belated apology.

Thing #1, inside and warm, looked smarter by the moment.

Thing #2 and I tried to make the best of it by huddling under the covers and watching Will Ferrell’s Land of the Lost. It’s not a very good movie, but it distracted us from the cold. We took turns holding the iPad, which was akin to a block of ice.

Our time came to an end when my wife opened the backdoor and let Wilson loose to inspect the strange contraption in his domain. Thing #2 and I heard some snuffling, and were then treated to a liquid that dogs utilize to claim their territory. The used, found tent–which is definitely not waterproof–now belongs to Wilson.

I will struggle to up my game of school’s-out-forever-how-do-I-entertain-our kids? The bar is low.

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