The Great American Backyard Campout Minus The Backyard Campout

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was The Great American Backyard Campout Night. Or in our family: The Great Scott and A Still Awake At 10PM Preschooler Sit In A Hot Tent Night.

My husband has been getting psyched up about this night for weeks. Tweeting and Facebooking it up.

Or he just wanted an excuse to shop at REI. Because when E’s bedtime rolls around, Scott says: I don’t think we are going to campout. We don’t even have a fire pit.
Me: What?
Scott: Maybe I could take E with me to buy one right now.
Me: But it’s his bedtime.
Scott: Well, he wouldn’t go to sleep if he was camping out either.
Me: Um, there’s a big difference between staying up with you in a tent in the backyard and shopping with you at 8 p.m..
E overhears and yells: A TENT? Let’s set up a TENT!
Scott looks from me to E: Um, okay.


I open the backdoor.
Me: It’s Mama.
Me: Is Dad sleeping?
E: I’m not sleeping!
Me: Yes I can hear that.

A text pops up on my phone. Yes, I’m using the iPhone app Flashlight to visit my family in the backyard tent.

So hot I’m dying

Scott: I’m not asleep.
Me: Clearly. So you’re just laying there and E is just sitting in the tent. For like an hour?
Scott: Yes.
E interrupts: Look at the stars.
Scott: Every time I consider going in, he says something like that. And we stay.

A bug flies down my shirt when I come back in. Ew!


I let our (new) dog, Ratchet, out. My phone beeped again.

Ratchet just
Peed on the tent

I come outside.
Scott: We kept wondering what Ratchet was eating. Turns out he was peeing. On us.
I am laughing too hard to respond.


Scott comes inside.
Me {looking around confused}: Is E already inside?
Scott: He’s refusing. When I got out of the tent, he just zipped himself in.


Screaming from the tent in the backyard: I HAVE TO PEEPEE!!

Scott let’s E out to pee and then leads him upstairs to his bed, which he crawls into with such a smile of relief that I know that he and I are related no matter how long he sat in that hot tent.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

17 thoughts to “The Great American Backyard Campout Minus The Backyard Campout”

  1. There’s something about men and camping, and going back to that whole ‘hunter gatherer’ thing. I can’t explain it, but the Novelist gets it every now and again (usually when we go camping). MAN WANT TO MAKE FIRE, MAN SET UP TENT. Honestly, I wouldn’t be alarmed if he actually started beating his chest.

    Tell me something – does it get worse?

  2. Hilarious! Maybe the dog peeing on the tent will be excuse to let that dream go. (for the record, I love camping, but if you don’t like it there are other great things to do.). Like enjoying the AC.

  3. Hilarious post! I love the fact that the dog peeing on the tent was the final straw. I was actually looking forward to camp outs and camping trips until the attack of the scorpions. When my garage door repair man told me the last time he went camping he and his son awoke in their cabin to find about 50 scorpions crawling around I decided that camping here in Texas is definitely not for me 🙂 I shall be leaving that to my husband but given the fact he hates bugs I doubt he will be venturing out into the great outdoors either!

  4. LOL!! You just described my husbands “campout” with our then 4 year old son. My husband and son were so excited. They diligently blew up the mattress to sleep on, set up the tent, brought my sons fave sleeping buddies and waited for dark. I stayed in the house, in the a/c, explaining our 6 month old “might” wake up. whew – first time I was grateful for a night waker. Once the dark hit and the “pooky” sounds started my 4 year old was done. They lasted almost two hours while my husband tried to soothe every “weird” noise. That night killed the camping idea for two solid years. I couldn’t have planned it better.

  5. First, totally laughing out loud at the text messages about the dog!!

    Also, my hubby suggested this idea before…I told him it would be a great father/son bonding experience – I want no part of it!

  6. This sounds like the WORST. However, I have found that nights like this are the ones my kids remember the most, and bring up at every family gathering. “Remember those bugs that were in our bed at camp?” “Remember when Dad fell off the horse at Indian Princesses?” “Remember when Mom screamed so loud that the people in the next tent came running over?” Ah, yes–childhood. It’s wonderful…love, molly

  7. Ohhhh! I have tears in my eyes and my big preggo belly was shaking up and down I was laughing so hard. I think Lahyme is even laughing. Hahahah! My favorite was the dog peeing on the tent and the text that corresponded. Parenthood. Awesome. The next step is to have a film crew at your house. Oh, comedy.

  8. I love the name Ratchet. That’s a good one. I’ve always been planning to name my dog Ralph if I ever get one. But perhaps naming her after a tool is the way to go.

  9. My girls love their backyard campouts with their Daddy
    Bugs, mosquitoes & dirt
    And with Mummy?
    We play hotel, inside.
    Our hotel has a beauty salon, where they give massages & head rubs
    I win.

  10. We camp. Really camp.

    That said, it is an experience, especially with little ones.

    But what I didn’t know then was that in 10 years, I’D be the one getting up ten times to walk half a mile to the potty. Damn.

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