Into the Wilderness
The first night of our camping trip it rained. "Nope, gonna blow over," the ranger had reassured us hours before. Yet there we were, Bill, me, and our 22-month-old daughter Annie, huddled in the old green pup tent. Water streamed over the tent fly. Water rose on all four sides, dampening our sleeping bags, extra diapers, flashlights, Goodnight Moon, and feet. Bill looked miserable. Annie, oblivious and dry between us, sprawled like a cat, snoring lightly. At least the rainy mountain air was fresh and clean, I consoled myself. And then our campfire dinner of beans and bacon passed through Annie's tiny system. Holding my nose, I wailed, "That's it, first thing in the morning I'm going home!"
Our Annie is an urban toddler, more familiar with cafes than trees; for Annie, deer and frogs are as exotic as elephants and giraffes—after all, we have great elephants and giraffes at the Oakland City Zoo. But we're wild, adventurous parents, unwilling to give up our youthful ideals. Living in a technological society, we owed our daughter at least a few nights without the hum of the refrigerator or the purr of the distant freeway, we told ourselves. We could camp with a toddler. Should be easy, we thought. Just throw some stuff in the car and head for the hills. After all, children have been surviving the camping experience for as long as there have been children.