My one night every 3 years away from the bad sleeping Doodle Bug and it was at a freezing cold school field trip at the Petaluma Adobe Mission State Park with Jimmy and his fourth grade class.
Not exactly my idea of R&R. Not when you consider that the purpose of this field trip was to demonstrate how hard they used to work in the 1840's in the real Adobe Rancho owned by General Vallejo. We were put to work.
So we arrived in the morning yesterday and worked our tails off all day and into the night. Not a lot of time for breaks and chit chat when each parent has been assigned serious jobs to tend to and the kids are busy working too. I was in charge of the candle station. Where the kids had to come and make candles from scratch by dipping the wicks over and over into 400 degree hot wax. It was my job to make sure no one wound up in the emergency room. Happy to report, no one did.
Other craft and work stations were: wool making, basket weaving, leather working, and word working. Kids were divided into groups and had to do learn each skill before they could move on to the next. Then they journaled about it in handmade journals.
Even during the downtime we were not supposed to be talking and chatting. We had to look and stay busy or the Ranger would reprimand us. Yes. Us. The adults. The rangers also walked around and made sure that we were doing the various crafts precisely as they were illustrated. My candle making station was anarchy and I learned quickly how many infractions I had made during the first group.
Talking and texting on cell phones was strictly prohibited. If a ranger saw you, she could take it away; even from the parents...
It was Jim's birthday yesterday and he was off work due to the rain, so he came up for a few hours to hang out and visit and see what we were doing. He wasn't going to spend the night because we hadn't prepared for that. So he came later and didn't really get assigned a job so he hung out with me and one of the other dad's at the candle making station. Well, anyone who knows Jim, knows what a gabbigale he is. He likes to talk and soon he and the other dad were talking away until the ranger came by and scolded them for talking. The next thing we knew, the teacher came over and pretty much kicked Jim out of the park.
I wanted to cry. I felt so bad for Jim, being his birthday and all. I really wanted to have some words with the mean ranger lady but honestly, she scared me and she was packing.
So Jim left and I stayed and froze my butt off. It got down to 35 degrees last night. No heat, no electricity (couple of spot lights), we had to get up in shifts and do night watch and basically, I couldn't sleep all night long. Not one wink. Jim turns the heat off at night, so between having no heat and listening to the dad's all snore in unison, I should have felt right at home. All I kept thinking was that there was a Sheraton just 1.4 miles away and I packed some Tylenol PM...as much as the Doodle keeps me awake, I still get some decent periods of sleep through the night. Last night? NONE. Zip. Nadda. Nothing.
Did I mention that the only bathroom was about 1/4 mile down a hill in the pitch black--blackness with skunks and fox and raccoon. Did I mention I have a weak bladder?
This one night, while it was a truly great and memorable experience for the kids, was like Chinese War Camp Torture for me. Even worse was how I couldn't sleep at all. When I got up this morning it felt like I partied like it was 1999.
We got up this morning. Early. But that didn't matter because I wasn't sleeping anyway. We made breakfast and did the dishes, cleaned up and had to put the Rancho back together in the exact, precise order in which we found it. A ranger inspect everything before we could leave to get into our warm cars and head home to the modern world we live in and take for granted.
In the night, we had a special story teller/historian come in full Vaquero costume and entertain us with stories of the way of early Spanish rule in California. We all learned a valuable lesson about how hard it must have been to live back then and what the settlers went through. It's truly amazing how far we've come. And, most importantly, Jimmy had fun. It will be something he remembers for the rest of his life.
Next year, the 5th grade class is supposed to go to another overnight field trip to Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay...talk about COLD. I told Jim that one would be his turn.