The Small and I spent the weekend at Blue Skies. We left on Thursday, and returned late Monday, and it meant that he and I had some intense time together. I was nervous about camping as just a twosome, but I need not have been. We may have been two, but we were two in the middle of a large village.
After I brought two cart loads of gear down to our spot (The small riding in the cart both ways) I had to go back and move the car. The Small decided he was not interested in getting back into the car, and our new neighbours said he could stay with them, and he seemed pleased with that plan, so I left him there, with strangers. When I came back he had a snack from our food bin, and one from each of two neighbouring cam sites.
Blue Skies remains my favorite music festival, and it lives large in the imagination of The Small too.
Earlier this year, we had received the gift of a s'mores kit. Back when I was a kid you had to buy the ingredients seperately and sharpen your own stick with a knife, but now, apparently, everything comes as a kit. The Small was excited to make s'mores. Late Friday night, we stopped at a communal campfire to do this. I roasted the marshmallows (because he was afraid he would burn them) and we assembled s'mores. He was disappointed. Still there was magic. In this case, the magic came in the form of a skilled hulla hoop artist who also stopped by the campfire. Her hulla hoop was lit, all around, with bright lights and she performed a mesmerizing dance for us. S'mores might be meh, but the dancing was brilliant.
Over the weekend I thought a great deal about children who are told not to talk to strangers. That's never been our rule, but The Small hears it often, strangely enough, most often from strangers (cautioning him not to speak to other strangers - you know, the ones who are bad dangerous strangers, not like them). The adults in our family talk to strangers, kind of all the time. We help strangers, we receive help from strangers, we make new friends, we get directions, we share what time it is. Talking to strangers is a way of making new friends and new connections in the world, a way of helping other people, and frankly pant of my work at My Tender Beast's as well. The line between stranger and person one is getting to know seems so mushy to me. What makes a person a stranger? What makes them safe? How is the small suppose to figure this out? Our rule is "Talk to strangers, but don't go with anyone without a parent saying it's okay first."
In August, The Small and I and The Teenager spent a weekend camping among strangers. Or we started the weekend camping among strangers, and made neighbours and possibly friends. At the end of the weekend, as one family was leaving early, they asked if we would give one of their teenagers a lift home the next day, and we did. We introduced her to our favorite maple syrup farmer, our traditional chip stand, and by the end of the ride she'd become one of The Small's babysitters. Because while we don't need more strangers, often you can make friends and neibours out of strangers, and we do need those.