Dear Vincenzo and Rocco

Today’s letter is inspired by previous years’ reports of, “I went the whole week without taking a shower!”

8.14.19

Hey boys! Today’s letter is a series of poems I wrote. See if you can fill in the blanks and also if you can guess the theme.

When haven’t washed in hours
And you smell like rotten flowers
Don’t just stand there waiting;
Get thee to a ___________!

When your counselor says P-U
And he’s looking right at you
Don’t just stand there stinking
Hurry to the __________!

When you’re feeling super grubby
And you need a little scrubby
Grab your bar of soap, love,
And hop into the ______!

When your teeth are cov’rd in moss
And red spaghetti sauce
Don’t just stand there smiling;
It’s time to brush and _______!

When your chin is wet with drool
And you look a messy fool
Here’s a fun idea:
Jump into in the __________!

When your friends all say, “Whoo-ee!”
And the fleas begin to flee
The only thing for you
Is to soap up in the _____________!

(The last one’s tricky. I’ll spell it backwards here in case you didn’t get it. A-E-S)

Did you guess the theme? Hint: it rhymes with “mersonal mygiene.”

Love you!

Mom

To Rocco from Halfway Cat

Dear Rocco,

Hey, Rocco. Remember me? The latch hook cat you left half-finished at home? You did a beautiful job on me so far but I’m afraid you stopped before you made my ears, so I can’t hear anything. What? Did you say something? I wouldn’t know. I don’t have any ears. I feel so half baked. I’m like the kitty without the cat. The me without the ow. The purr without the rrrrrrrr.

Being left this way is not half bad, I guess. But it’s not half good either. I do have both my eyes and I can see that I am not the only half-finished thing on your desk. There are some half-written thank you cards, a half-solved Rubik’s cube, a half-read book, and a half-eaten bag of hot sour gummy worms. When you come back, I’ll half to ask you if you always finish things only halfway or if you ever finish things all the way. Of course, I won’t be able to hear your answer unless you finish making my ears, in which case I’ll have the answer.

Even though I’m only halfway done, I love you all the way. Come home soon! (All the way home, please—not just halfway.)

WHAT’S COOKIN’ NI2TE:
Breakfast for dinner

Camp Letter #2

Monday, 8.13.109

To Vincenzo (from his spork),

I mean, honestly I’m a bit ticked off. I mean, I thought we had something. I thought you became a man when you held me in your hand. Now you’ve gone to camp and where did that leave me? In the bottom of your grimy backpack next to a smooshed Skittle and a piece of math homework you never turned in. That’s cold, man, that’s cold. Your mom rescued me and I know she meant well, but she put me in the fork drawer. The fork drawer! They wouldn’t have me. She put me in the spoon drawer. They wanted nothing to do with me. At least she knew enough not to put me in with the knives.

I could be at camp right now, tucking into a bowlful of stew or twirling my first sporkful of spaghetti. Instead I am here on the kitchen counter, naked and alone, staring up at the ceiling and contemplating the meaning of my short, sad, loveless life.

Anyway, hope you’re having fun at camp, eating soup and ice cream with your hands. Unless gasp—you’re not cheating on me, are you? With forks and spoons? Perish the thought!

I love you anyway. Sporkfully yours,

Sporky

You know, if you squint a little bit, you can almost imagine the ceiling is a giant plate of mashed potatoes.

Hello mudda, hello fadda

Vincenzo and Rocco are at overnight camp this week, so welcome to a week of camp letters, from me to them.

Saturday, 8.10.19

Dear Vincenzo and Rocco,

Hope you had a great first day! We spent most of ours in Seattle buying a map for Leo’s room and saying “yes” to whatever he wanted. When we asked what he wanted for lunch he said that you two would probably go for sushi but he didn’t want sushi. He wanted a rocky road ice cream cone. We got him one, but we made him eat something more substantial first (he went for a chocolate crepe and an orange soda).

Maybe I shouldn’t tell you all this because it will make you want to stay home from camp next year. I promise to make tomorrow all vegetables, room cleaning, and losing battles for Leo, and we definitely won’t go to Chuck E Cheese and watch the new Spider Man movie.

Rocco, you can rest easy knowing we bought a new filter for the fish tank. We also considered buying King Bob a little friend at the pet store. He deserves a treat, after all–it’s been two whole months since he ate anyone’s eyeballs! But in the end we decided against it. We bought Leo a puppy instead. (Just kidding.) (They were all out of puppies.)

It’s 9:15PM now. Dad and I want to go to bed, but Leo is eating honey toast in his undies while explaining that the best way to get sap out of a tree is to get something really sharp and stab it first. I think we’ll lock our bedroom door tonight.

Love,

Mom

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Hamburgers
Salad with apples and pecans
Smashed potatoes
Chocolate peanut butter chip ice cream sandwiches

Happy Campers

I camp with other moms whose husbands don’t like camping. Forget dads taking their sons fishing and roasted their catch on the open fire. Instead, we are moms who take our sons foraging and feed them fancy salads with edible flowers.

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(Okay, we didn’t actually make our sons forage for food. The flowers came from my sister’s produce tub. But the triscuits were foraged!)

We only camp once a year and each summer I let myself buy one camping item from REI. This year it was camping pads. No more stuffing our car with every soft thing we can carry before we drive off—now we have three neatly sausaged camping pads!

At checkout, Kevin snuck a titanium spork onto the counter. “Woah woah woah,” I said. “That will have to wait for next year.”

“It’s for Vincenzo,” he explained. “It’s time gets his own spork and becomes a man.”

There was absolutely no reasoning with him, and so here is Vincenzo’s spork, having its first food. (A turkey sandwich.)

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And taking its first bath.

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*sniff* They grow up so fast.

Kevin doesn’t understand why we camp. He thinks it’s funny I buy camping pads so I can make the ground feel a little less ground-y when my bed at home does the job so much better and also does not have to get stuffed into a sack the size of a pillow case at the end of each night.

So I’ve been thinking about it. Why do I like camping? Why do I intentionally spend a weekend depriving myself of most of the past 500 years worth of inventions? (6,000 if you count the invention of the bed). Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Despite the hours you spend hiking or sitting beside a creek or playing BS around the campfire, when you think back to your favorite camping trips, it’s the follies and near-disasters that stand out. Go on! Try it!

We shared some of our favorite camp memories around the fire, like the time my friend’s daughter got lice from a helmet she wore during a horseback ride. And the time the person camping next to them seemed a bit mental, so her husband slept with a hammer under his pillow. There was the time my sister’s car had a dead battery when we were all packed and ready to catch the ferry home. We got the car jumped and raced to the ferry—only to get their car on and mine not so much. (Fortunately they let me squeeze on.)

As for last week’s camping trip, every time we went into the bathroom there was a lady sitting there in a camping chair, charging phones and scowling at us in a disturbing way. Also, at 3AM, three of our boys woke up. Luke wanted his mom, Ari couldn’t zip his sleeping bag, and Leo instantly disappeared into the woods. He showed up a minute later in our tent, very confused as to where his pillow went. We pointed Leo to the correct tent, zipped up Ari,and  moved Luke into our tent. While getting everyone back in their proper places, my sister saw someone lurking behind a nearby tree so she shined her flashlight on it. It  was my other sister, crouching behind a tree, doing what one does behind trees when one is camping. The next morning, my sister’s pants caught on fire.

It was absolutely perfect. It’s the reason we go camping.

Of course, we also go because of this.

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You turn a corner and can’t take it all in, it’s so hugely beautiful. Even though you recognize the rocks and water, the green of the trees and the sigh of the sky—even though you recognize these as things of this planet, still you think, Can this be Earth?

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To be clear, camping is not about the pretty photos.  It’s about standing in the water, squealing because your toes feel like ice, then sliding down the rocks like a drop of water and when you can’t take the cold anymore, wrapping up in a towel and sunning yourself on one of the big, warm rocks that conveniently line the edge of the creek.

Sitting in a place that has grown up just fine without you and will continue to grow long after you are not makes you feel like nature doesn’t give a fig about you.

Sitting on a warm rock that is so perfectly placed next to an ice cold stream makes you feel that nature is doing this all just for you.

It’s wonderful to feel both at the same time.

WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken Ramen
Pickled cucumber salad
Peach cobbler