Monday, September 18, 2006

Things That Go Scratch In the Night

When Hank and I married, I had next to no experience with camping. Hank was, on the other hand, well-seasoned and in love with the great outdoors. Being the patient man he is, he lovingly schooled me in the fine art of camping and I came to enjoy it.

So it was natural, when our girls came along, that we'd be a camping family. In the early days we 'roughed' it in a large tent. It had a big, zippered front door and three large flap-covered windows. It was really pretty roomy, and was even doable when our third daughter came along.

Eventually we did graduate to a fifth-wheel--our mansion on wheels. We have enjoyed some wonderful family experiences and have also, through the years, made some great memories with our friends here in Kanner Lake. One of those experiences is worth telling. First, my version, followed by Hank's.

One year, when our girls were about 9, 6 and 4 we were joined by Larry and Carole Cellaway and their kids, Nick--who was about 10 at the time, and Natalie, 8. It was arranged that Hank would share a tent with Larry and Nick and all the girls would share the other.

As is our custom, we sat around the campfire for a couple hours after supper, making the traditional s'mores and singing. (We didn't tell ghost stories as it really didn't help much when it was time to get the girls to sleep!) The kids really loved this time and still talk about it.

After we'd said our good-nights to the guys, had done our private visits to the cordoned-off latrine, Carole and I got everyone settled into the tent. As is typical with the first night, the girls had a hard time settling down and were doing a lot of giggling.

Suddenly there was a scratch at the side of the tent. It startled all of us, but I was sure it was the prank of our next-door neighbors.

Our oldest, Amy, the serious one, said, "Abby, stop it." (Abigail is our middle child). Abby told her, "It's not me, Amy." Another scratch.

"Natalie, if that's you, STOP IT," came Amy again. Natalie said it wasn't her. So she said to me, "Mom, stop. You're scaring me." I assured her it wasn't me. For some reason it never occurred to her that her dad and Mr. Cellaway and Nick might be up to no good.

Another scratch. Amy said, "Abigail, I said stop it!" Abby said, "God help us, it ISN'T me!"

From outside the tent came peals of laughter from two grown men and one little boy. And the girls were nearly in tears, screaming, "DAD!" "How mean!" "That wasn't funny, Dad."

Needless to say, it took a while to settle everyone down again, with assurances from the dads that they would not be back, and additional assurances that there were no wild animals anywhere near the campsite.

Here's Hank's version of the story:

Larry, Nick and I were tired and really wanted to get to sleep so that we could get up early and get a bit of fishing in before the sun came up. It seemed that every time we would be just about asleep one of the girls would let out a shriek of laughter. This "visiting" went on for some time and we boys got a bit weary of the routine. So, being the ornery type of guy that I sometimes can be, I devised a bit of a fun for the guys. We decided to get close to the girl's tent--we originally planned to bang some pans and scare them good. Nick got a bit too close to the tent and brushed it with his shoe. To our surprise one of the gals heard it and reacted. We changed our tactics and began making subtle scratching noises with our fingers. Finally we heard a shriek of "God, help us!" and we couldn't contain our laughter.

Funny thing, though. After that, the girls were noisier than ever. It was a long time before anybody got to sleep that night.

--Janet and Hank Detcher

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
Hank, for a pastor, you sure can be a mean guy. Teasing your daughters like that. Now who would ever do such a thing?
Posted by Anonymous larry cellaway : 9:21 AM
Janet, thank goodness we have you to keep Hank in line. Imagine the prankster he'd be if you weren't around.

Good to see at Java Joint last week!
Posted by Anonymous marge heckley : 9:23 AM
Ha! Served you right, Hank. Probably payback for all the snoring you men do. :o)
Posted by Blogger Ane Mulligan : 4:14 PM
It sounds like a little passive aggressive payback is in order.
Posted by Blogger The Curmudgeon's Rant : 9:41 PM
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