Survival of the fittest: The Clan stays Home Alone

Although we may be suffering at home, up to our ears in chores and strawberries, there is one nice thing about staying behind. We don't have to endure the six-hour drive to the campsite or back home.
By : 
Lydia Hanson
Too Hick to be Square

One of the Clan’s few traditions is going camping on the North Shore every summer. This is something we’ve been doing ever since I was a toddler, making at least two camping trips to one of the state parks along the shore every summer.

Needless to say, 15+ years of going camping near Lake Superior has made that my absolute favorite vacation spot, not to mention a staple of the Clan’s summer activities.

However, as I, and some of my siblings have gotten older, we sometimes have to miss these trips, usually because of work or other prior commitments.

This will be the third year I’ve had to skip on camping trips for work. However, although I miss spending the weekend in the North woods, chucking rocks in the lake, and doing the other things involved in a Clan camping trip, staying behind doesn’t mean I miss out on the adventure.

As it turns out, staying home alone is an adventure in and of itself.

This may not strike you as particularly daunting, and I’ve certainly gotten over my anxiety about empty houses (the quiet after being used to a 13-people racket is a little nerve-wracking at first). But as it turns out, having the house to myself — or only sharing it with three siblings instead of 12 — isn’t entirely smooth sailing.

You see, although the number of people at home shrinks significantly, the amount of chores needing to be done doesn’t really get smaller. There’s still animals to feed, laundry to wash and fold, and usually there’s also something in the garden we need to pick at least once.

Normally, these are jobs that would take between 10 minutes and an hour. But when there’s just four pairs of hands at home to pick, cut, and freeze 450 square feet of strawberries, it may take well over six hours for that job alone.

It also doesn’t help that the people who stay home already have busy schedules (hence their reasons for staying home), so there’s usually only one or two people home at a time to work on these things. After a full day of work or school or both, spending four hours bent over in a strawberry patch is a sure way to become short-tempered in a hurry.

The short version of all this is that although day one is always smooth sailing, day two is usually a little tense and by day four we’re all relieved that Mom, Dad, and everybody else is coming home.

It’s not for nothing that Mom texted us the day they started driving home to ask if there had been any disasters: fires, pestilence, starvation, mass mutiny, and so on.

Luckily, this most recent Home Alone experience never escalated that far, but I think the experience of staying home from family camping trips can be best summed up in the reply my sister texted to Mom: “No major casualties and I’m fairly sure there was a minimal amount of angry shouting.”

In our book, that’s pretty good.