My son and partner are off today on a Dad’s only camping trip. I’m excited for them, I went camping a lot with my parents and remember the thrill of arriving and setting up the campsite. The fun of inflating the old heavy rubber mattresses, the squabbling with my younger sister of who was going to sleep on which side of the tent, and the eating of the camping food under the stars.
All of this, my little family will be experiencing tonight, while I lay on the couch with a good book and some quiet reflection time. This trip is vital for the development of the ties between my son and partner, the time together is something neither of them will ever get back. The one on one time, and also the time mixing with other Dads and their children. In this busy life we all lead, this time off together and bonding is vital.
This coming year I will take my son out camping in the backyard. We’ve been putting the tent up together for a long time – back in Tasmania through the long dark winter, my son and I would camp inside – yes that’s right the tent would go up in the bedroom, and we would drag the mattress into it. And squabble over who was sleeping where, and we also ate camping food – with torches and wild (toy) animals surrounding us. I loved this time, it was just him and me, and the tales of camping I could pass on.
And now it’s my partner’s turn, to enjoy the time, to sit around and tell the tales of his youth, and to pass on some of the folklore of his family to our child. What an incredibly special time for both of them, and for this I will gladly wave them off, as they rock on down the road listening to their music and anticipating the journey and adventure ahead.
I’d like to think that this trip, will form another layer in our child’s rich life, one that he too can pass on. Even if it’s only a few tall tales of how his Dad fed him baked beans and spam for two nights in a row and called it camping food. But what is important is the time that is being spent here with him, uninterrupted by modern life, and for me that is the best Christmas present my partner could give to our son.