My son and daughter were troopers for the first half-mile -- then the drama started.
Token Dad: Summer, traditionally, entails my son (11) and daughter (8) spending 95% of their educational hiatus in day camp, cooking camp, fencing camp, therapy camp, punctuation camp, or a special camp we have right here at home: Wii/Nick/iPod camp. This year, however, that fickle mistress -- the economy -- has limited camp to 37 days out of a possible 82 (not that I'm counting). This recently resulted in a grueling stretch of 20 -- that's right, twenty, with a capital T -- days with both children, 24/7, no playdates, no grandparents' lunches (my mother-in-law smartly fled to Turkey) ... nada.
Luckily, my wife -- the doctor -- is smarter than me, and had planned a relaxing trip to ... Sequoia National Forest. Great! In between interminable stints behind the wheel -- with my son, daughter, and wife swapping back, head, and stomach aches while I maintained Zen, humming along to Pet Shop Boys -- we crawled through caves, climbed over rocks, and drove through tree trunks. We also saw the "General Sherman" tree -- the world's largest living thing. (Far outsizing my disdain for Judd Apatow.)
The familial catharsis occurred when we decided to hike to Eagle Lake. The trek was described as "strenuous": 3.4 miles, scores of switchbacks, altitude of 9,700 feet. My son and daughter were troopers for the first half-mile -- then the drama started. Every imaginable affliction was offered, short of plague. In return, every hackneyed potential life lesson was trotted out: "If you can do this, nothing is impossible"; "Think how proud you'll be" ... um, yeah, whatevs. At 9,000 feet, after a (literally) heated debate, we settled on "It's not the goal, it's the journey."
Forgiveness prevailed on the drive back to the cabin, and we sang aloud in harmony to, appropriately, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"
|Scott Lenz, a former music journalist and television producer, is a stay-at-home dad to his two children, Jaron and Georgia, and a stay-at-home husband to his wife, Suzanne. They all live in Los Angeles.|