Monday, September 01, 2008

role reversal

After all the camping adventures, they are starting to pile up. Our camping receipts marked with our site number and date of departure hang, taped to the inside of the windshield, driver's side. We are like those people with ski lift tags hanging from the zippers of their down vests (only slightly less pretentious).

We've crammed in a lot of camping in the last month. A good chunk in the last week. Life has been gloriously slow.

In our regular routine, it's me that plays primary care giver to Little Mr. Long Blonde Curls. I've got the day to day. I know what's caused the tantrums, how long the nap lasted, what deals have been brokered, how much broccoli was left on the plate. Mike plays relief pitcher – you know, the guy that comes in in the 8th and gets all the credit. His brief stint, consisting mainly of play time before bed, leaves the crowd cheering for more.

Out under the redwoods, however, things change. Mike assumes the greater responsibility for maintenance – chasing the small person with a toothbrush, say – and I, well, I take to the hammock with a book.

Apparently not everyone switches roles on holiday. From through the bushes one day we heard an angry woman's voice. “Sure!” it said rather violently, “Nobody thinks about MOM...” It roused me just slightly, but then I gave myself a push in the hammock and felt all better.

It was on the fifth straight day of our vacation that I sensed the shift in Mike. Day five seemed to herald in a tone of voice I don't remember hearing my husband speak in before, yet it was somehow familiar. “Maybe you should go to the potty NOW, because it's almost nap time,” he was saying. And then he approached me, swinging as I was under the redwoods.

“He asked if YOU would take him this time.”

“Okay,” I said, yawned and kept reading.

“It's getting to be nap time,” he tried again, tapping the face of his watch.

Reluctantly, I rolled out and into my shoes. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that was the tone of a harried housewife in his voice.

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