I figured out something important about myself over the weekend. Or, more accurately, I figured it out again: I’m not a camper.
This realization came to me whilst attending a sleepover at the British Museum on Saturday night with my 8 year-old son. He’s a “young friend” at the museum and as with all things, membership has its privileges. In this case, he was invited to attend an evening of workshops surrounding the current Montezuma exhibit, followed by a sleep-over and early morning access to the exhibit.
What’s not to love, right?
Well, a lot, actually. At least if you’re me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in awe of the quantity and quality of things that British museums – especially this one – do in the way of inspiring and educating children about art and history. It’s one of the things I love most about living over here. By way of example, in a mere four hours on Saturday night we decoded Mayan glyphs, made a Mexican headdress, chanted to some Aztec Gods and listened to a Day of the Dead Story teller. In short: brilliant.
But then there was the actual sleepover. And here I was less charmed. As I lay there around 2 a.m., wide awake on a cold, stone floor amid the Assyrian statuary…in a sleeping bag (graciously loaned by a neighbor)…with my 8 year-old son lying next to me, grinding his teeth…in a room full of snoring strangers….under the watchful eye of “A Winged Bull For Sennacherib’s Palace” I thought: Right. This is why I hated camping all those years.
I know. I know. It’s not real wilderness-style camping. But it bears enough similarity to warrant the comparison. To wit:
*relative deprivation from creature comforts (e.g. bed, heating–those statues are cold!, shower, normal food)
*living in groups and listening to/participating in other people’s personal rituals (e.g. sleep, eating, teeth-brushing)
*that curious modern creation that is the sleeping bag
It probably would have helped if I’d had an air mattress instead of the yoga mat I brought to add an extra layer of comfort. (Not.)
It probably also would have helped if I were ten years younger and didn’t yet know the aches and pains of that pesky piriformis muscle that’s been acting up so much lately.
And – to be honest – it probably also would have helped if I were just a different person. I don’t know. Someone who really excelled at Girl Scouts, perhaps. Or didn’t find it really strange to brush my teeth in front of 20 other people.
But I’m not. And much as I love my son, I don’t think I’ll be repeating that exercise anytime soon.
But I’m happy to have learned all of this – again – about myself. Because at the end of the day, adulthood is about realizing who you are and what you enjoy in life.
I had the exact same realization the other day when looking at a friend’s vacation pictures on her computer. As I watched slide show after slide show of her recent family holidays, I realized that in every single one, she and her husband were engaged in some sort of “extreme sport” – whether it was kayaking or mountain climbing or windsurfing.
Whereas when my husband and I take a holiday,we tend to go to a lot of museums (in the daytime!), frequent cafés and catch up on The New Yorker.
Which is, I suppose, a long way of saying “to each his (or her) own.”
It’s also a long way of saying that the next time I spend a Night at The Museum, it will be on film.
Image: Night at the Museum by Frangipani via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.