Saturday, June 6, 2009

Better than a Staple in the Head

Last November we moved into a new house because Tanner was sleeping in the hallway. There just wasn’t enough room for him anywhere else. And he only weighs, like, 25 pounds. Standing, he only takes up half a square foot. It’s not like he’s chunky—I mean, nobody’s ever asked him to buy a second seat on Delta.

But if you take 8 people and all their stuff and ask them to live in a small house, it’s bound to get a little awkward.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten out of bed in the dead of night to do whatever it is you do in the dead of night—only to step on somebody’s head.

And nothing can bring a dad a pang of guilt like stepping on his child’s head.

Imagine sleeping peacefully on the floor when suddenly your dad’s size 10 medium gets planted on your skull. And dad isn’t exactly light-footed at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Which is all a long way of saying that the White family is a bit neurotic about square footage.

So last November we moved into a bigger home and promptly spread ourselves luxuriously throughout the house. No more running hurdles over little people sleeping in the hallway.

Which is also why it’s mighty ambitious of us to go camping—because there’s still 8 of us—and we’re all getting bigger—and our Coleman Trailer has exactly 32 square feet of floor space.

For those of you who think that 32 square feet sounds like a lot, let me remind you that that’s a space 8 feet long by 4 feet wide.

Which is just enough space to play a really tough game of Twister.

You have to ask yourself what would prompt us to want to pack up all the camping gear, cram ourselves in the Suburban, drive 4 hours down the interstate—just to stuff ourselves in our little trailer.

We were calling it Spring Break 2009: Zion National Park.

And Murphy’s Law was in full force for this one.

An hour before we were scheduled to leave, Tanner, our 3 year-old, fell and split his scalp open. If you’re a parent you know the drill. Dad thinks it’s not so bad, but Mom thinks he needs stitches.

DAD: “Shoot, it’s not that bad… Just keep holding that blood-soaked rag against it. It’ll stop. Sometime.”

MOM: “But he needs stitches or he’s going to have a scar for life!”

DAD: “So what if he has a scar…it’s in his scalp. His hair will cover it.”

MOM: “But what if he goes bald someday?!"

DAD: “Well, that’s what comb-overs are for. Besides, if he goes bald that’s your fault. It comes through the mother, you know.”

MOM: “Well, maybe we can super glue it. I’ve heard that works.”

DAD: “Are you serious?”

MOM: “Yeah…I heard it somewhere.”

DAD: “Okay, that’s too weird. Go take him to the doctor and get some stitches.”

So Lori takes the kid to the doctor while the rest us sit glumly and tap our feet because we’re all ready to go and time’s a-wastin’.

And I’m sure you know the drill at the hospital. Fill out some paperwork. Then fill out more paperwork. Then wait a really long time while the rest of the family is back at home sitting glumly and tapping their feet.

Then it’s finally time for the great procedure. The thing that Lori literally crossed town for. It’s like climbing the proverbial mountain to consult the wise guru.

We have an injured child here and we need your expertise oh Great One!

DOCTOR: “Okay, we’ll just put a staple in it. (CHACHINK!) There. All done. You’ll see a bill for $485.00 dollars. It will arrive in your mailbox before you get back home where your family is sitting glumly and tapping their feet. Thanks for coming in!”

Later, I’m looking at Tanner with a single glittering staple sticking out of his head and I’m thinking that if he ever goes bald he can thank me to the tune of $485.00 that there’s nothing to mar his shiny noggin.

And I’m thinking, Sheesh, I have a stapler….

So, off we go down the interstate—our Suburban looking like a General Motors pin-cushion—bikes sticking out at odd angles—the inside like Hurricane Katrina—pillows, blankets, and bare feet all around….

Lori opens a bag of sandwiches and passes them around—no mayo for Jason. We’re listening to an MP3 mix on the stereo that I’ve imaginatively called Good Songs that randomly switches from Black Water to Yo Ho, a Pirates Life for Me to Hotel California, and then to Lori’s all–time favorite, Muskrat Love.

Okay, so that’s not her favorite. And maybe that’s because I sing along and stare at her with a twinkle in my eye.

By the time we finally arrive at Zion National Park we’ve sung along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, A Bug’s Life version of Beauty and the Bees (you have to hum that one), Johnny Cash's I've Been Everywhere, K.C. and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty, and Doby Gray’s Drift Away.

And the sandwiches have been reduced to crumbs.

Now let me be clear that we go to Zion in April for the sunshine.

Not the snow.

Which, according to Murphy’s Law, is what we got.

So instead of having thousands of acres of national park as our home-away-from-home, we had 32 square feet of trailer.

So we busted out the Twister game.

Just kidding.

Poor Natalie was beside herself because she came for the lizards and toads—and cold-blooded animals aren’t exactly fond of the cold. She did manage to catch a couple of lizards that had missed the “Feeling Sluggish? Perhaps it’s THE SNOW” memo. But the toads were another story.

And I suppose that’s what dads are for. When you just can’t bear to break your daughter’s heart you bundle up, grab a flashlight, and go out into the frigid night hoping that there are such things as Eskimo toads.

And somehow it’s okay that you don’t find any. The important thing tried.

And I suppose it’s okay that Tanner had to get a staple in his head—and that it snowed during our Spring vacation—and that we ran out of propane for the furnace in the trailer—and that the sway bar on the trailer wasn’t working right.

The important thing is we did it.

And we actually had a great time.