Last week I mentioned the special father’s day activity that Evelyn planned for me, and this weekend it was Oliver’s turn.
He and Sara had secretly planned a one-night camping trip, just for the two of us.
Unbeknownst to me, they had made reservations and hidden all of the camping stuff in Ollie’s closet (which Ollie had helpfully labeled “KEEP OUT”). In fact, the day before Sara had sent me to the grocery store to get hotdog buns, and I still had no clue. 🙂 When I opened the envelope on Saturday morning containing my instructions, I kept saying, “Really?”
It turns out that there is an honest to goodness campground inside Cook County. Who knew? It’s called Shabbona Woods and it was actually quite lovely, especially for our purposes.
We had a lovely campsite, hotdogs, smores, and a couple of miles of hiking trails. Perfect!
In fact, perhaps we had a little TOO many smores, because Ollie was a bundle of energy. Even after I made him run laps around the campsite, he still had no desire to go to sleep. I told him a story, and then he told me a story, during which I promptly fell asleep. Then he quized me on parts of his story and then said, “Let’s keep going back and forth, telling each other stories!” I was like, “Uh…I don’t think so,” and he said, “Do you want to run a mile??”
But the REAL story of our trip was the story of the incomparable Buddy. Let me tell you about Buddy, the most wonderful firefly that ever lived.
It turns out that Ollie has never seen fireflies before. We don’t have them in Chicago, and when we’re camping, he is usually in bed before they come out. Naturally, he was enthralled; not so much by the glowing, but more on how easy they are to catch. They just sort of hover slowly at 6 year old eye-level, and even if they escape they go right back to hovering in front of you.
So this particular firefly was just sort of hanging out on his hand, and I made the mistake of throwing out a comment, “Oh hey, I think this one likes you!”
*Boom*, Ollie was smitten. Suddenly he had his life all laid out: he and Buddy were going to live together forever, travel the world, possibly fight crime… Buddy was suddenly the best friend he ever had. Periodically I would say, “Eventually you’re going to have to let Buddy go…” and he would scream “NO!” at me.
Unfortunately, during a game of release-and-catch they were playing, Buddy made a break for it and escaped into the woods.
Desolated does not describe the way Ollie felt. I am talking the absolute depths of despair here. He was inconsolable. Somehow he had so internalized the “this one likes you” that he couldn’t believe that Buddy had left him. In panic, I asked if he wanted to call mommy and tell her about Buddy, but he was crying so hard he couldn’t even talk.
I kind of thought it would be over soon, but every few minutes he would remember his good friend Buddy and start wailing anew. “Buddy!” he cried into the woods. “BUUUUUDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” I don’t know how many times he asked me if he would ever see Buddy again.
Even the next day, he was still crying about it. We were leaving and he sobbed, “I saw a flash from the woods, but I don’t think it was Buddy. I think Buddy told the other fireflies to watch over me, and they were letting me know Buddy was okay.”
He even told me that he was going to write to Santa and ask to be reunited with Buddy. ::sigh:: What is it with this boy and testing the limits of Santa’s magic?