Last night after dinner, just when Bossy and her husband and her daughter typically call it quits for the day, the trio piled in the Saturn to go fetch Bossy’s son from the train station.
The stars fell downward through the black night, while the scent of the nearby dairy farm settled around the glowing street lamps, and the adjacent villagers walked dogs sporting red bandanas.
Throughout his life, Bossy’s son has had limited patience for camping—he never warmed to the incessant sound of zippering and early morning kickstands, just like he never got used to wrestling his narrow sleeping bag and the accompanying brush of damp vinyl.
Similarly with the rented rowboat—the bait tenuously wrapped around the hook that becomes entangled in the tree junk floating on the surface of the lake.
Ditto with the splintered picnic table bench that holds the storage box that contains the collapsible wire camp toaster that burns the hotdog rolls you must slather with strawberry jelly because there is no more regular bread.
Which is why it surprised Bossy when her son climbed from the train after his 13-hour journey and this was his attitude: lousy.
It surprised Bossy because she wrote a different script and it went like this: as Bossy’s son faces his first year of college he becomes wildly sentimental about the flashlights and hardcover books that crowd and crawl across the floorboards of the car with each bend of the country road, just like he would grow to appreciate the lack of hand towels in the shared restroom, and the hush of the campground at 9:15 p.m. sharp, and the beating rain which returns in time to soak his foam bicycle seat which was not under cover of the trailer’s canopy.
Bossy wasn’t aware that her son was busy working on his own script which went like this: spend a blissful three days alone in the family house cooking chicken piccata for your girlfriend and listening to your carefully chosen iTunes through the living room sound system, before climbing aboard a train that will wind endlessly through New England on freight tracks which impede progress over thirty-five miles-per-hour.
And while on board the train which is held at artic temperatures freezing your flip-flop feet into mini icebergs, eat nothing but potato chips and tortilla chips and other chips until you are up to your ears in hydrogenated fat, and then climb from the seat which held your body in an altogether awkward angle and fall into the arms of three relentlessly cheerful people who talk nonstop about how much you are going to love the new Park Ranger with the earring (hi Park Ranger!), just like you are going to love the pop-up trailer which is easily as big as a house minus approximately 2500 square feet.
Which is how it came to be that Bossy and her son and their opposing scripts stood toe-to-toe last night: Bossy’s son reminding Bossy that it is recorded in the Family Camping ’08 contract that he is entitled to his very own King-sized bunk, and Bossy arguing back that he is not allowed to climb off a train in a sleepy junction and single-handedly alter the barometric pressure of Vermont.
In time, Bossy and her son reached a détente that involved a few attitude adjustments, a handful of compromise, and a detour at the local grocery store for a fat-ass protein-heavy sandwich.
Undomestic Diva saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:18 am
I’d have a lousy attitude too. I’m like a caged animal that needs to be let loose. Preferrably somewhere with a normal-pressured shower.
Not a happy camper. Hell… not a camper. At all.
Jacquie saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:19 am
It’s good practice for dorm living, I guess. Melt a happy pill into his s’more!
Cindy Z saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:24 am
I know this age and this story well 🙂
Lynne saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:26 am
Don’t ya just love teenagers?????
Grandma J saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:37 am
s’mores with mom, compared to chicken picatta with girlfriend….boy, what a hard decision!
Mr Farty saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:46 am
Farty is pleasantly surprised that Bossy’s son even showed up!
Debby saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:02 pm
It’s just like my kids (9 & 10), feed them crap all day and they’re grouchy, get some protein (healthy version) into them and they are “happy campers” (hee!). Hope it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
Jodi aka soNOTcool saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:04 pm
Could you spare a few grains of sand from that ‘handful of compromise’? My daughter could use some of that.
Kristina saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm
Just keep thinking that teenagers eventually realize that parents aren’t idiots and that we might even be smart.
JK saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm
Yep, there aren’t enough homemade fruit pies (or bottles of State-approved liquor) in that-thar grocery store to rectify this situation.
Bossy's Friend Martha's Sister saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm
This is called “flying the coop”. He is beginning to leave….. 🙁
Rebecca saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:13 pm
C’mon, Bossy, that kind of sentimental stuff (per your scenario) doesn’t kick in until (a) the Bossy Son is about 40 or (b) you’re dead or (c) both. I too am impressed that he showed up. Maybe he ran out of food at home.
My idea of fun camping: a cabin with power and running water and a deck overlooking a rushing river and beds and a refrigerator stocked with lots of wine. No velcro. No zippers. Ahhh, sign me up.
jp saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm
Bossy, it’s God’s way of making the GOODBYE and the LEAVING for College easier………….you actually WANT them to take their nasty-assed attitude and go away!
Peg saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:15 pm
Aw mom, you sure know how to put a damper on a college man’s style. I think he was really getting into this Staycation thing!
Madness saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm
LOVED the ‘air’ about this story.. the feel..the attitude …
Madness recants .. you soak up all the fresh air you want 🙂
Foolery saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm
“Early morning kickstands?”
Whoa. Not sure Bossy and I have the same dictionary.
Assertagirl saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:23 pm
I hate to say it, Bossy, but I’d rather be eating chicken piccata and cranking the stereo than eat strawberry jam on a hot dog bun.
You don’t really think they just ate dinner together alone in that house, do you? heee
The Domestic Goddess saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:24 pm
Rut-Roh-Rorge. Got the ‘tude already, eh?
Sigh. Hope it goes away and he enjoys the fresh air.
Hallie saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm
I hate camping. I’m with the boy on this one. A small Hilton or Marriott is my idea of roughing it!
Mary Alice saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm
It is called “distancing” and it is very normal teen behavior prior to leaving the nest. It is also normal for mothers to feel like poking their own eyes out and drinking heavily.
Love, Mary Alice
reen saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm
Hm, I wonder if the ‘tude would have been a much better one if Girlfriend had been invited too. Hehe.
Domestic Extraordinaire saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm
Glad to hear that he got there okay. And I agree that sentimental stuff doesn’t come til he has kiddos of his own.
Lori saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:43 pm
You make parenting actually sound kindof fun and interesting. Without all the yelling and huffing and pouting.
dgm saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm
Sounds like my fam—three of us looooove camping, one does not, so she is pretty much screwed until she can grow up and never take her family camping, and her family will all beg to go. We had such a great camping trip last summer, and yet all my daughter remembers of it is, “You made me eat that dry sausage without condiments!” Three days of fun, and she is still bitter about dry sausage. We were definitely working from different scripts.
amy saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:52 pm
I spent one week last year camping here.
The only camping I will EVER do again. Learnt to ride an elephant too….bonus.
Cyndi B saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm
Hmmm…sounds too familiar. You have my sympathy.
Lisa saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:56 pm
Loved the dueling scripts – what a great way to put it. And why don’t the other actors in our dramas ever know their lines?
CarolynOnline saysAugust 6, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Bossy’s son – download The Lemonheads “Outdoor Type” right this very instant. It’s the theme song for all of us who are outdoor challenged.
kate saysAugust 6, 2008 at 1:20 pm
i really do adore bossy’s son.
but bossy’s son and his chicken piccata and hostility to the sound of zippering? come on, what’s not to love?
qt saysAugust 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm
Oh Bossy – it is hard for you right now. FWIW, I would have loved the camping…
andrea saysAugust 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm
It’s funny looking at those pictures and knowing where everything is. (okay that sounded stalkerish and it totally is not meant to be but it’s Vermont, my home state, I get sentimental).
I hope that Bossy’s son will enjoy the rest of the time camping and living it open in the GINORMOUS pop up camper!
Franca Bollo saysAugust 6, 2008 at 1:44 pm
Liked this bit … made son of Bossy sound more three-dimensional … like a normal 18 year old. I’m in complete agreement with him … camping, feh. But I love to backpack. Go figure.
MidLifeMama saysAugust 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm
I am in the same category as Bossy’s son. Camping, being in close quarters with other people, communal bathrooms…heebie jeebies. How nice he showed up anyway. And it is good practice for dorm life. Which I hated too. Life will be interesting at college for him!
David saysAugust 6, 2008 at 2:02 pm
The fact that this post shows that family life in BOSSY-land isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and talking bunnies kinda made my day.
I’m a terrible person.
Jill saysAugust 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm
Too bad the weather is sooooooooo bad today,at least in the center of the state – we’ve had torrential downpours all day.
Doesn’t go a long way to improve someone’s mood 🙁
Tootsie Farklepants saysAugust 6, 2008 at 2:56 pm
That pop-up camper is going to seem like a palace once he gets to his dorm at Columbia.
rosie saysAugust 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm
Why do people camp if they have a house to live in and they can be uncomfortable at home? I need to meet your son, our scripts have the same plot.
Momo Fali saysAugust 6, 2008 at 3:47 pm
Mmmm…nothing goes with lobster like a side o’ cigarettes.
surcie saysAugust 6, 2008 at 3:52 pm
I’m guessing it wasn’t a lobster roll.
For future reference, there’s not much that a good lobster roll can’t fix.
Stacy (mama-om) saysAugust 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm
After my son has a big melt-down (he’s five), he tells me, “Mama, I guess I didn’t eat enough protein.”
Hope the sandwich helped y’all start a new script.
Stacy (mama-om) saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm
P.S. I forgot to tell you that I only spontaneously said, “This is good” about three dozen times while reading this post.
MommyTime saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm
Oh, Bossy’s son, you will love to tell all the NYC kids you meet who have never been camping all about the wilds and the rustic roughing it. Trust me, some people will respect you more for that. But you don’t ever have to tell Bossy you liked it even just a tiny bit.
Sorry, Bossy. That’s the contract. We get to hate the vacations our parents take us on — at least as far as they’re concerned — and then tell our own kids about them with all kinds of nostalgia in our voices while torturing them with the vacations we WISHED we’d gone on as kids, so that they can perpetuate the cycle.
At least it makes for great stories!
Gayle saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm
The scripts I write in my head for vacation usually look like a totally different movie than the one that actually plays out. My version – Parents and three kids enjoying each other, smiling and happy. Reality – two kids wanting to go from gift shop to gift shop. One kid (teenager) wanting to go home, The Whole Time.
whall saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm
Just so you know, my favorite three words from this post are
“and other chips”
AnnP saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:22 pm
Bossy, I loved reading this. Great story. I so agree with David above…nice to hear a story about the tough times, too. You have a wonderful sense of humor through it.
All Adither saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm
The scripts never quite work out how they’re supposed to.
And you know what I’ve been thinking about that has absolutely nothing to do with your camping trip or your son graduating or your house or yard or camper or anything?
I miss you!
A bunch of us (including Beanpaste. Sadly, Mrs. G. is really sick) are getting together tonight and it keeps reminding me of when you were in Seattle.
blackbird saysAugust 6, 2008 at 4:42 pm
I am ashamed to admit that I am pleased that your son seems normal.
Also, I admire your ability to find wifi in outerbumfuck.
p.j. saysAugust 6, 2008 at 5:07 pm
I am so with you, Bossy. Different scripts is the perfect description.
My surly 18-yr. old worked for 7 weeks, and then announced that the only time he will be leaving town this summer is when he leaves for college. I feel so stuck . . . especially since I am the only person in the family who enjoys camping and canoeing. Husband will hike.
Rather than go on a day trip to a state park, the kids want to go to Six Flags on Friday. I feel hot, tired, cranky and nauseous already. But my script says that we need to have fun as a foursome.
Enjoy your vacation. Sorry about all the rain! p.j.
ap saysAugust 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm
All of this resonates: surly boys operating on junk food, camping, different scripts. As I write, my nine year old son is grinning at me with his freckled nose and adorable dimple, and I KNOW what is to come. My neighbor and I were just having a driveway conversation about her sixteen year old son who was slamming doors and there was Code Red Mountain Dew involved. She was on her way inside to force feed him a taco. I’m filing all this info away. In the meantime, hang tough, mama. Throw out the script and pretend it’s a Robert Altman film.
Little Miss Sunshine State saysAugust 6, 2008 at 5:24 pm
My daughter had to spend the summer before starting college…going to college! Because she was going from a high school of 800 to a college of 45,000. Mandatory summer session.
Every day she told me that it was NOT how she wanted to spend her last summer before college.
I pictured Bossy’s son saying the same thing.
Whip out a copy of this post when he is dragging his kids into a pop-up trailer in VT in another 25 years or so.
Manic Mommy saysAugust 6, 2008 at 5:32 pm
Everyone thinks it’s like the Bradys in the Grand Canyon. Then you smell the lavatories.
ms ellie saysAugust 6, 2008 at 6:05 pm
I always hone in on the ZIPPERING sounds myself. After the 10 zillionth zipping, a person just has to find the booze.
Oh, and Bossy’s son? You’re still precious. No matter what your mood.
Augusto saysAugust 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm
I really hate camping…well, camping that doesn’t include a luxury hotel or cabin with hot and cold running water for the shower and a really comfy bed…and the attached restaurant with delicious foods.
I’m so with Bossy’s son on this one.
On the other hand, I so love a train trip. Spacious seats, walking around, visiting the snack car, watching the scenery – all so much better than the effing airlines and their security nightmares.
Jen saysAugust 6, 2008 at 7:13 pm
Lousy attiudes SUCK. 😉 But I love the pics in this post! Dark … like your son’s mood. If it makes you feel any better, my family had a nickname for me in my early teens: Black Cloud. I’d like to say I didn’t deserve such a nickname, but oh, I know I did.
Meg saysAugust 6, 2008 at 7:15 pm
Ah, the parent-free house, the carefully-selected soundtrack, the family-free kitchen. I remember that from like A HUNDRED years ago. Bossy’s son is so ready for college and all that goes with it.
Meg saysAugust 6, 2008 at 7:16 pm
Oh and BTW I am not a camper, so if Bossy’s son could orchestrate some Chicken Piccata with a specially-chosen soundtrack for moi that would be super. Kthanxbye.
Deb saysAugust 6, 2008 at 8:32 pm
I can so relate Bossy. When hubby and I decided to go on a sailing trip Engineering Guy declined. That was certainly NOT part of the script as he loves to sail. He preferred to stay at home too. A very wise friend told me that when it’s time to leave the nest teens get so annoying that you want them gone. I’m finding some truth in that.
Crabby McSlacker saysAugust 6, 2008 at 9:14 pm
Important things I realized from this post:
1. I’m so glad I never had kids;
2. I was SO MUCH WORSE than your son when I was his age;
3. Thank God my mother wasn’t blogging 30 years ago.
operagal saysAugust 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm
Crabby – I’m with ya.
just a note – always hated camping and canoeing, and at 43, still do NOT ever look back on it with any kind of fondness.
dlyn saysAugust 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm
Love this post, cause who doesn’t love tales of surly teenagers not your own – but the photos at the train station REALLY make my heart go pitter pat!
g saysAugust 6, 2008 at 10:11 pm
Aw, this is making me sentimental! And also frightened!!
Our son is going back to school to start his junior year of college, so we’ve already been through the First Departure.
But before school starts we’re dragging him with us for a Car Trip in the Deep South – visiting Grandma One in Texas, renting a big-ass Cadillac and driving along the Gulf Coast to visit GrandmaTwo in Florida. Stopping lots along the way in New Orleans and various other attractions – but still, he has to spend the time with US!
junebug saysAugust 6, 2008 at 10:13 pm
Don’t you wish teenagers and college bound students could remember for a moment that life will not end the next day if they don’t get to do what they want? We were all there though at that age. And that’s exactly how I felt too. I just wish there was someway to convey the message.
Pamela saysAugust 6, 2008 at 11:03 pm
Oh the joys. I am not counting the days until the faux-teenager (RealAge:5) is a non-faux-teenager.
Stephanie saysAugust 7, 2008 at 12:41 am
How is it that you are blogging whilst camping?
Does your campground have Wi-Fi or do you have a wireless antenna somehow hooked to your cell phone?
Cathy saysAugust 7, 2008 at 12:47 am
Some crazy reason I felt at home with this story. I’m glad I’m not the only one.. take a deep breath, exhale.
What Happens Next saysAugust 7, 2008 at 1:19 am
I camp like Bossy’s son.
With lots of attitude. But a fat-ass sandwich would probably help.
Jenn @ Juggling Life saysAugust 7, 2008 at 1:19 am
I feel a smidgy better about the attititude of my son as we vacay in paradise together. He’s happy to kayak, mountain bike and hike-it’s just me he’s not that wild about.
SnowWhiteMommy saysAugust 7, 2008 at 1:47 am
Hmmmm…I think Bossy may have the wrong son…..mine!
Cactus Petunia saysAugust 7, 2008 at 2:27 am
Oh, thank God! It’s a such a relief to hear that Son of Bossy is a nice, normal guy! I feel MUCH better knowing he’s not some sort of Stepford kid.
Just so you know…In our house the scripts were SO different I felt I was in an amateur production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” performed by a cast of non-english speaking bi-polar rabble rousers.
Repeat after me: “This too, shall pass.”
It worked for me!
Christine in Maine saysAugust 7, 2008 at 8:53 am
Mmmmmm…………we had fresh Maine lobsters last night. =) And for camping, we are DIE-HARD campers but a summer of ENDLESS rain has more than dampened our enthusiasm. Love the snippets of your lives!
Amy saysAugust 7, 2008 at 9:04 am
We’re headed for Vermont in the morning and sure enough, the weather forecast is for 9 straight days of rain.
We’ve gone this week for the last 7 years and never seen a drop of rain before, so I guess we’re due. Still, ick.
imagine1community saysAugust 7, 2008 at 9:36 am
That’s the best description of a family argument I’ve read in a loooong time. You go!
Cara saysAugust 7, 2008 at 10:57 am
Bossy’s Son will be able to say “I spent a year camping in Vermont last week.”
ML saysAugust 13, 2008 at 10:56 am
I LOVE you!!! I don’t know you, but I love you with all of my internet love. Today, this especially:
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to house the many supplies necessary for camping when the entire health of your marriage is hinged on the state of the basement.
So for you I suggest cabin #6 at Table Rock State Park in Pickens, SC. BYOChianti and hide it under the camperish-looking stuff.
ML saysAugust 13, 2008 at 10:59 am
comment under wrong post. Literally got lost in the writing. Still love it