Look at them over there, the smug bastards. All 5 of them with Papa Scrum. Who do I got? I got TV's Mike, a guy that watches Nascar like it's Jesus behind the wheel. And he is drinking one of my beers. And I have a feeling that he's only over here with me because he feels sorry for me. Great. I have the pity of a guy that watches cars go around the same exact track 400 times. That guy feels sorry for me. The children on the other hand, feel nothing for me because I don't exist to them.
They are all about Papa Scrum and his stupid blue tent. We have 2 campsites. I have them labeled as Campsite 1: Full of rules and regulations, order and hygienic conditions. And Campsite 2: The fun campsite where the door never closes and the flashlights are there for anyone to play with and the batteries be damned. It's even near a mud puddle.
Papa Scrum has campsite number 1. I have campsite number 2. None of the kids want to come to campsite 2. They are all about Papa Scrum and helping him put up his blue tent.
Granted, it's a pretty tent. Brand new in fact. A 4 person sleeper with a rain shield. My tent on the other hand looks like something a hermit in Alaska would own. One day someone would stumble by and find his decomposing body in this tent, possibly mauled by a bear. And the tent leaks, as you have seen with my other blog. And after this trip I will also learn that it even leaks when there is only dew.
We are both putting up our tents and getting camp ready. And yet, none of the kids want to help me with old Bessie. They want to help with the new tent and I can't figure it out really.
This is the second camping trip I have taken this year with the kids. This is the first one I have taken with Papa Scrum and TV's Mike. Now I don't get a particular thrill out of camping. I like the quiet, and I like sitting by the fire. But what I really like is being a kick ass father who goes camping on a Tuesday afternoon. I like the kids singing my praises and composing sonnets about my awesomeness. I like the idea that many years from now the children will gather yearly to honor my memory and our camping trips.
They might do that, but it will be only for Papa Scrum. I will be regulated to "that guy that was there." I am Sam to Papa Scrum's Frodo. At least TV's Mike has a beer.
"Everyone out of the Tent!" Papa Scrum yells. "Listen, no shoes are allowed in the tent, it will get dirty." He tells the kids, ages 2 to 4.
I yell back "Hey, everyone can come into my tent! Look, the door is open! And it's going to stay open all day! Come on over to Crazy Hossman's Tent revival, yeeeeeeeeeee haaaaaaaaaaawww!"
No one budges. I don't even think that they look at me. What in the hell makes Papa Scrum so lovable and fun??
"Don't pull that pole!" he says. "Wait, wait, wait! I told you not to pull that pole!" The blue tent almost falls down.
"Hey! I've got lots of poles over here! And they are metal poles, not those sissy fiberglass things. I bet you could hit each other with these poles!" I think I actually get one of the kids to actually look my way this time, but it's not even one of my own children. TV's Mike just shakes his head and sips on his beer. I can tell he wants to go over to campsite 1.
Why are my kids not here? They loved the first camping trip, rain and all. They thought it was great. They have been bugging me for 2 weeks to take them again. So why aren't they here? Why are they over there with Papa Scrum learning the proper way to drive in tent stakes?
"I'll let you use the hatchet over here! We'll show those tent stakes who's boss." I might as well just be screaming at myself. TV's Mike is just pushing the tent stakes down with his sandals, the ground is that wet. We don't even need to drive them in but I've got the hatchet coming up and down like a madman trying to entice some child into the thought of destruction and danger. I'm using that hatchet like Mel Gibson in the movie Patriot. You would think that my own kids would be all over this, but they are not.
"Everybody please stand back, only one person can help me blow up the air mattress at a time" Papa Scrum says. He's getting frustrated now because the kids are simultaneously trying to step on the air pump for the air mattress and jumping up on the air mattress.
"Look here!" I say "Who wants to jump on my air mattress!" I even start doing it figuring that I can break the ice a little bit. But nope, they stay where there are rules and the right way to do things. My sales pitch of a chaotic campsite doesn't appear to be getting any customers. TV's Mike hides his face as my desperation for fatherly love stinks of failure. I got nothing but an old tent that may have been something that the Duke Boys camped in. Well, I do have TV's Mike. That's something at least.
Camp is almost set up and I am still not getting even a glimmer of some father/child love. Oh, my daughter did run over to me to tell me how much fun she is having with Papa Scrum. She also tells me that she loves him and that he is her new best friend. I try to bribe her.
"I'll give you a pony!" I tell her. "Right here, right now." She starts walking away.
"I will let you throw the hatchet at my head." She barely turns around
"Here are my car keys." I throw them at her. "As of right now, if you stay and help me I will let you drive where ever you want to go."
She walks back over to Papa Scrum so that they can learn how to properly zip a tent up to make sure bugs don't get in.
I sit down in the grass. TV's Mike walks over to the blue tent but leaves me the empty beer bottle.