44. Bonding over Bats and Bunfires

44. Bonding over Bats and Bunfires

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters

Bonding over Bats and Bunfires

Camping: nature’s way of promoting the motel industry.

~Dave Barry

We hadn’t done it in years. I mean, with all these kids, who has the time—or the energy? My husband announced last week that it was high time we did it, and if we had to tie the kids to a tree, this weekend was IT.

Happily, I accepted this romantic invitation and spent two hundred dollars getting ready for it. Into the cart went the bare necessities: marshmallows, chocolate, fruit, tin foil and, oh yeah, mosquito repellent—lots of it! The more loaded my cart got, the more excited I became. I could already see the thousands of stars overhead, smell the clean mountain air, and feel the cool river. Ah, camping. It had been too long since we were one with nature.

I looked forward to finally being able to use those nifty fold-up chairs we had given my husband last Christmas, as well as the brand new tabletop tiki torches I bought on a whim. I couldn’t wait!

Friday morning arrived, hot and sticky, and we all looked forward to higher elevations and cool mountain breezes. Landing the perfect spot next to the river, complete with a shallow swimming hole, we unpacked and were happy as wasps on a watermelon.

After settling myself in one of the technologically advanced fold-up chairs, soda in hand and feet lazily parked on the footrest, I began to let the beauty of nature relax me. I happened to breathe just ever so slightly in the incorrect direction, and BAM! The chair folded up with me in it. My soda landed neatly upside down, lid intact, but being all folded up, it was hard for me to pick it up (a major priority for me—I need my Diet Coke!). I only had one hand poking out of the chair, so all I could manage was to yell for help. Marty flopped around, laughing so hard that he couldn’t help me get up (or so he claimed).

Eventually, I righted myself and the clearly dysfunctional chair, and saved my soda. What a woman! Feeling like a pioneer in the mountains of Utah, I now felt ready to deal with anything.

Suddenly, our tiki torches caught fire—not just the wick, but the whole bamboo part! We had to douse them several times because periodically they would catch on fire again. And again. The flames spread like, well, fire, straight down the sides of the torches until one of us, in panic-stricken hysteria, would trample, drown, or smack it out, only to have the whole thing begin again minutes later. The problem was that we needed those torches! Our camp swarmed with every type of flying insect, and the only thing that seemed to keep them at bay were those blasted torches. Heck, they scared me, too.

At last, it was close to bedtime, and somebody (they all claim it was me, but I don’t remember it that way at all) had the bright idea to light sparklers—as if we didn’t have enough fire in our camp. The children danced around, shooting sparklets leaping from their hands. It was wonderful, truly a Kodak moment, until I heard Marty say, “Uh, Sooz? Your butt is on fire.”

Sure enough, my hiney had a little flame shooting out of it. I didn’t even know! What does THAT say about the extra “padding” I have?! Immediately, I sat down, squashed it and was folded up in the chair again, all in one fell swoop. We figured my bum caught on fire because I was lighting sparklers for the kids, and the embers must have somehow found their way to my bootie. They burned a hole in that stupid chair, too. Good.

Leaving my husband to get the three-year-old to fall asleep in the tent (like that was going to happen), I sat outside with the other children, warming by the campfire and gazing upward at the summer night sky.

“BAT!” my fourteen-year-old son screamed suddenly in a perfect Shirley Temple voice.

“B-b-bat! Bat! Bat!” he screeched, pointing to the treetops overhead. Squinting into the night sky, I couldn’t see a thing. Wait, there was something. Several somethings. Wings spread, tiny heads and pointy ears. Yup, bats.

“BAAAATTTS!” I screamed, running and tripping my way to the tent, dragging the eight-year-old behind me.

“Bats, bats, bats!” I screamed until I ripped the zipper open and threw both kids inside, stumbled in, and tightly zipped every last form of nylon protection between us and those fanged freaks.

It was a nerve-wracking night. Every noise seemed to be a bat-in-waiting. At long last, morning came, and we ended up having a wonderful day of hiking, waterfalls, eating dirt-covered food with our dirt-covered hands, and having fun. As nightfall approached, we packed up and headed for home. Another night in the woods was more than I was willing to risk.

In the end, we had a little bit of disaster, a lot of fun, and came home exhausted, but with a new appreciation for God’s beautiful creations: showers, roofs, and sturdy chairs.

~Susan Farr-Fahncke

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