In my dad’s book, Keys to Your Child’s Heart, he shares how to make family memories. An inspiring how-to for parents to create amazing moments and strong bonds as a family unit. He can take no credit for our family’s closeness. It was a gift. It was years of messing up, I think that did it. My favorite stories of “messing up” are now the hilarious topics of our family get-togethers. My brothers and I tease, embellish, and make fun (in love) of ALL the attempts dad made to bond us closer. The camping stories are my very favorite. In fact, the parenting book was written on a two month camping trip. It was weeks of torture for my brothers and I jammed in a camper zipping from state park to state park. I honestly don’t know how they did it…how did my mom keep her sanity? There were bumps and crisis and bruises and adventures and laughs at every turn. My dad insists that camping will make any family close. The #1 bonding activity. He would bet his camper on it.
Roger and I were so excited the first time we took our son, Michael camping. He was one years old and full of life. We wanted to start him out young and start the bonding right off the bat. I remember like it was yesterday packing the car with all the camping goods and our brand new Coleman tent. We thought of everything. We interviewed several avid campers and decided on the perfect spot for our 1st trip. The drive was long and winding. I remember feeling car sick, but my joy of camping held me over through the 4 hour drive to camping paradise.
It was beautiful. The best spot. We set up our camp site in a flash. We had a few tumbles trying to figure out how to balance out the tent, despite the slight lean…we did it!! I headed to the outdoor facilities but stopped short. The not-so-clean, super nasty toilet was crawling with bugs. Dear Lord, it was disgusting! Refusing to “go” there…I insisted Rog drive us to the nearest clean restroom. There was noooo near clean spot. Where was the gas station? Where was the park restrooms with showers? I realized quickly I would really have to rough it up! 100% nature calling in the wild outdoors.
The night was long and everything went wrong. It started raining. A motorcycle gang rolled in and set up camp right next to our tent. A college group catty corner partied all night. It was cold and wet and loud and miserable. I begged Rog to go out there and tell the college kids and motorcycle gang to BE QUIET!! We have a baby trying to sleep in here! Long story short, we packed up our brand new tent and all our camping goods in the dark and headed for home. We were mad and really sleepy. I felt like a total failure. What happened? I was a camping pro. Our family bonding depended on this camping trip to be a success.
We learned a lesson. Our un-camping trip WAS a success. We bonded. We had our memories. We could laugh at the messes. Maybe we weren’t cut out to be campers, but we were cut out to be a family. A family that loves being together. We never popped that tent up again, but we did invest years later in a pop up camper. We are now the Gibson Five and I cherish our memory-making-messes deeper than ever. I guess the moral of this story…you can bond pretty much doing anything as a family. Trouble will find you where ever you go.
Make every memory count!!
Ok- I’d really love to hear your favorite memory-making-messes or bonding craziness.
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