The Parenting Hunger Games, or Camping with the Family
Written by Alice Seuffert
Camping is messy and chaotic. It is the family activity we cringe about, and with good reason, we call it the Parenting Hunger Games.
The reality of camping is that you aren’t forced to participate in this family activity; you are a Tribute for misery. A Katniss Everdeen of the parenting world, you have volunteered to sleep on the ground, expose your virgin skin to bug bites and eat campfire-burnt food. Maybe your spouse loves camping and you agreed to go but you are still left feeling like your name has been picked from the glass bowl and you are the “winner” of the Reaping.
You are allowed one thing to wear to remind you of home in the Hunger Games, Katniss brought her Mocking Jay pin as her Tribute token; you brought your yoga pants. Pajamas, day wear, swimsuit cover-up, they are versatile and remind you that relaxing on the couch while far away now lives on in your memories of home.
Just as the Tributes arrive blind to their surroundings and the challenges that wait, your family arrives at the campground unsure how each member of the family will respond to the new environment. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you use those to your advantage? You are vulnerable to how they react in these new surroundings. You are very afraid. And you need to make important decisions, like should you run for the can of bug spray or a cocktail first?
The Live Telecast
Sharing your experience on social media? Just as the people of the Capitol comfortably sat back in their luxurious lives and watched the tributes fight each other off, your friends at home do the same. Your social media friends and followers sit back in their Panem-like surroundings, cozy bed, free of bug bites and observe your suffering. They are likely clinking their glasses of champagne while in silk sheet beds as you roll over on your deflated air mattress and swat the mosquito buzzing your head.
The Gamemaker controls the Hunger Games and just as the Tributes finish one challenge another emerges. The Tributes run from tracker jackers and poison fog; you fight off spiders and tent farts. The Gamemakers of both conditions are equally unscrupulous. The Tributes at least have silver parachute deliveries, your relief comes in whatever first aid kit you put in your car in 2005.
The victor of the Hunger Games returns home to new wealth, food, fame and housing. You return home defeated, but alive. You laboriously begin the task of unpacking and wondering why you needed so much stuff in the first place. It would seem like you took a beach vacation with the amount of sand now making its way into your home. Your homecoming celebration is a shower followed by checking yourself for ticks.
As the shower water beats over your bug-bite studded body, you plot your uprising. Your proposal: A Daddy and Child Camp Out. That’s it! Exactly what you’ll propose the next time. And then the time arrives to talk about camping and while camping is chaotic, it’s funny and messy and imperfect. Just like you and your family.
And so while a weekend home, free of bugs sounds lovely, you get back in that darn tent and do it all over again, after all, you are just like Katniss Everdeen, you fight for your family.
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About the Author: Alice Seuffert is an education researcher, television foodie, and blogger who writes about parenting and creative comfort food at Dining with Alice. She is mom to Stella and Wes and has trained her kids to be excellent egg crackers with the hope that one day they will make her breakfast in bed. She is the author of Freezer Meals for Moms. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.