I absolutely love that story. There are certain things that kids just have to figure out on their own.
Now that William has joined the Boy Scouts, he goes on a full-weekend camping trip once a month. For the past several months, Charlie has joined him as they leave on a Friday afternoon, and return home Sunday afternoon.
This past weekend, William was slated to have a camping trip to a beach on Corpus Christi, approximately five hours south of us. Until 3:00 PM on Friday afternoon, Charlie was planning to go with him - but at the very last minute he decided, "I really need a weekend at home."
So we packed William off on his own - his first time ever - and after arming him with a cell phone and strict instructions on how to behave, and sunscreen to apply, etc. etc. we bid our son fare thee well a while.
William texted us along his route - they stopped for dinner and gas - they were driving again - now he was sipping a root beer and nibbling snacks! At 11:30 PM they arrived at the campsite and he wrote to tell us that he'd be setting up his tent and going to sleep. Everything was going swimmingly and Charlie and I, feeling content that our son was doing A-OK, went to sleep.
At 1:17 AM the phone rang.
I answered it, and on the other end was a very distraught William. There was sand IN his tent. There was sand everywhere. He was miserable. Please, could we come get him?
Um, let me think about it for a minute ... NO!
I told him I loved him very much and that he needs to put the phone away and go to sleep. "Goodnight" I said, as I hung up the phone. Less than two minutes later, the phone rang again.
"MOM. You don't understand. THERE IS SAND EVERYWHERE AND I AM MISERABLE. Oh, and also, Dad forgot to pack my sleeping bag."
This is what happened next:
Charlie flew out of bed gasping, "What do you MEAN you don't have your sleeping bag?! William, we PACKED your sleeping bag. It's in the support trailer!! I'll tell you what happened, you arrived and were goofing around with your friends and not paying attention to what you had and what you didn't have and now everyone's asleep and LO you don't have your sleeping bag. I love you little man, but this one's on you. You need to go to wrap yourself in a towel and go to sleep. Find your bag in the morning."
My husband hung up the phone and less than five minutes later, it rang again. I could hear William's bellowing on the other end of the line, "DAD! YOU FORGOT TO PACK MY SLEEPING BAG! I CANNOT SLEEP! COME GET ME RIGHT NOW, PLEASE!!! I'M MISERABLE!!!"
And my husband, God Bless him, held his patience and said, "Son, I love you more than life itself. But there is no way I'm driving five hours because you can't find the sleeping bag that I packed for you. Use your towel, wrap yourself in it, and GO TO SLEEP. You're in south Texas in the middle of May in a tent. The temperature will not drop below 75 degrees tonight. You'll survive until morning. Sleep well. I'll talk to you tomorrow, I'm hanging up now. GOOD NIGHT!"
The next morning at 7:00, William called and said he was feeling GREAT! He was able to go to sleep and when he awoke this morning, there was a beautiful sunrise.
Also, he found his sleeping bag.
Nonetheless, this was a wonderful experience for us - and him - and his siblings who heard all about it, because part of growing up is problem solving. This was the first time he'd ever had a "problem" that wasn't immediately solvable by his parents ... and it was a good thing. For everyone.
My final word of warning was to make sure he put on sunscreen every 2-3 hours.
When he arrived home today, he was burned to a crisp and he now knows that just like I told him - it is critical to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
Much like riding your bike with eyes open, some of these life lessons you just have to learn on your own.