Have you ever gone through so much trouble for something that is short-lived? Have you ever questioned whether it was worth the trouble?
My son, Ryan, begged me for a sleepover the other night. He’s a master at planning his own playdates. “We’re going to camp out in the backyard and make s’mores!” He announced his brilliant plan as if the tent was already in the backyard, the marshmallows’ in the pantry, and the fire was burning in the firepit we don’t have.
I have no problem saying “no” to my kids when necessary, but Ryan’s enthusiasm was contagious… and it is summer.
The camp-out playdate planning began. Jordan’s mom agreed to the sleepover. My husband agreed to purchase the s’mores ingredients (and some actual food for these children to eat.) I agreed to build the tent in our backyard.
Sometimes plans sound so good at the beginning of the day before you’ve used up all your adaptive energy — but they lose their luster as you near the time of execution. By the time the kids got settled in and I put away all the groceries Orlando bought, my energy to put up the tent waned.
Let me explain something. We are not campers. It’s a miracle we own a tent and the one we have requires a minor in engineering to get it up.
But the kids kept asking about the tent. My husband tried to talk sense into me. “Listen, Caro. It’s getting late, and it’s hot. Those kids won’t last ten minutes in that tent. It’s not worth the mission of putting it up. Let them play in here. I’ll make the s’mores (in the oven). They’ll have a great time.”
I considered it. We had made a fort in their playroom a few days back. “Let’s do a sleepover in the fort!” I cheered.
“We really want to camp outside,” they pleaded.
Despite my better judgment, I set out to build this impossible tent, trying to recall the tips my friend had given me one time when she helped me.
It took me an hour to get it up. I got bit by mosquitoes. I sweated profusely. My kids tried to help, but helped little. At last, I did it.
My husband wasn’t wrong. The kids spent a total of ten minutes in there before the heat and mosquitoes got to them. I’m exaggerating—it may have been twenty.
When the door banged for the hundredth time because the boys had come inside the house again, Orlando turned to me. “I told you the tent wasn’t a good idea. I don’t know why you went through so much trouble.”
“Because we remember moments, not days.” I smiled.
Truth is, I didn’t care how long they enjoyed the tent. I wanted to see the excitement on their faces when the giant tent popped up in their backyard; The joy of watching them zip themselves inside and letting them believe they were going to spend the night inside. It was about hiding in there with them and playing a few board games and the delight in their faces when it got dark, and I surprised them with a lantern. There was magic in those moments.
I hope that when my boys are all grown up, they’ll remember that time when mom put up a tent in the backyard for a sleepover. If that brings a smile to their face and a fond memory, then it was totally worth it.
A MOMENT OF CLARITY
Sometimes things require a cost/benefit analysis. Sometimes they are not worth the effort or the expense. It’s definitely okay to say no when that’s the case. But never underestimate the power of a magical moment.
Because when there is magic in the moment, it way outlasts the effort.