Following Lea’s temper tantrum, I am shaken, but we continue getting ready for our camping trip, and leave for the coast. Immediately following the crossing of the coastal range, we roll down windows of the car. The cooler air and the smell of the ocean is a tonic to all of us. Mona and Lea have never been camping and Mona has never seen the ocean. We pull over at the first turnout so we can all look at the ocean. I consider it a great privilege to observe my children the first time they rest their eyes on the ocean. It is a lovely sunny day and the air is 30 degrees cooler than the Sacramento Valley which is our home. Our camping trips are very comfortable. Our tent is large and each person has an airbed and a good sleeping bag. The girls enjoy setting up camp. Ivy is an old pro and there is plenty for everyone to do. Once the tent is up, we are bursting with pride because we did such a good job.
I take off my tee shirt, leaving my tank top on. The girls gasp at my purple and yellow bruised arm. I make no effort to hide it. Lea says: “Is that what I did?” I said: “Yes, it is, but I am over it, and I am not mad. You are not going to do this anymore, are you?” Lea says she will not and the tantrum is forgotten.
It’s a nice camping trip. Lea learns how to make “camp spaghetti” and will always be the “spaghetti master.” Billy is a great camper. The ranger gets on her for dropping cigarette butts and again she says I should have stood up for her. Logical consequences for unacceptable behavior administered by a third party are a bonus for me. Mona has so much to do all the time that we have some peace. I am glad I pushed forward on the camping trip. I am sure the anxiety was a contributing factor to Lea’s outburst. Lea learned that our camping trips are a lot of fun and there is nothing to fear. I have to admit that I was very apprehensive about going on our camping trip with Lea presenting this volatile behavior.
The four of us camping seems to be a great fit. Ivy is my experienced child, a veteran camper. Billy is enthusiastic and capable. Lea embraces hard work and will ask for more. Mona thrives in this new environment with endless new things. We return home tired and revitalized at the same time. Summer is mostly concluded and I am looking forward to school starting. Billy will begin the 11th grade; Lea starts middle school, Ivy and Mona return to elementary, and the 6th and 4th grades.
Soon after the first day of school, Shari joins our family. This time, nobody is happy. My girls think we have enough children in the house and Billy does not want to share her bedroom. I consider the protests and our circumstances. I can no longer supplement our income by working outside of our home. Billy, Ivy, Mona and Lea are stable and need me to be a stay at home mom. Children do not need to be guaranteed their own room. That is my decision as the parent. For the very first time, I contend with rude, unwelcoming daughters to our newest sister; Shari.