Gazing out the tent flap at the rain that hadn’t let up since we’d arrived I supposed I couldn’t exactly blame my mom for being so unenthusiastic about the whole last-minute camping trip idea. I sighed and turned back to my mom with a smile that I hoped appeared only a little forced.
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into coming out here,” my mom grumbled as she continued to scroll through her Facebook feed.
“Come on, Mom,” I offered, “We’ll have a good time anyway. Sarah and her parents go camping all the time, and they always have so much fun!”
“Does it usually rain all day when they go camping?” my mother huffed without looking up.
“Well, no, but um,” I stammered, “but I’m sure they’ve hit their fair share of speed bumps along the way. Let us try to make the best of it.”
“I am,” my mom answered, waving her phone in the air.
I refused to let my mother’s pessimism get to me. Furrowing my brow in thought, I looked around trying to find something that might be able to take my mind off the less than ideal conditions our little camping trip had run into. When I spotted the little lake just a short distance from where we’d set up camp, I took off before my mother could tell me not to. I hit the little strip of beach running before plunging into the water in all my clothes as the rain kept pouring down. When I resurfaced I spit a slender stream of water into the air like a fountain and laughed to myself as I wiped the lake water from my face and blinked while the raindrops continued to fall around me.
After a few minutes of her daughter’s absence and listening to the occasional giggles drifting in through the open tent flap, my mother’s curiosity must have gotten the better of her. She set her phone down and popped her head out of the tent. When she saw me laughing and playing in the water, my mother became quite confused.
“What on earth are you doing?” she called to where I was floating.
“Well, I figured if the rain kept up I was going to get wet anyway,” I reasoned, sticking my toes up above the water and giving them a wiggle, “so I might as well go all out.”
A funny sort of smile came over my mother’s face at that. She looked up at the sky, though, and she couldn’t bring herself to abandon the dry safety of her tent. When she disappeared back inside, I hardly even noticed; I was enjoying myself too much. When my fingers began to wrinkle like little prunes, I decided it was time to find a new form of entertainment. I waded back toward the shore and tried to wring as much water from my soaked clothes and hair as I could. Ultimately, I decided it didn’t matter since I had no intention of going inside just yet. I was wandering around the lush green campsite, watching the raindrops slide down the leaves of the trees and plop onto the ground when I spotted a little visitor.
My mother nearly dropped her phone when she heard her daughter squeal outside. She came flying out of the tent, certain that I had encountered some form of mortal danger, only to find me kneeling in the mud and gazing at something in the bushes delightedly. As she cautiously inched her way closer, she was able to make out that I had found a fat, slimy frog. I heard her coming and sensed her initial disgust immediately, so I turned slowly to smile at my mom.
“I’ve decided to name him Ribbert,” I announced, “and I think you should pet him before deciding he’s gross.”
My mother opened her mouth to protest, but one look at my raised eyebrow stopped her before she could utter a word. She took a deep breath and reluctantly made her way over to crouch on the ground next to me. She wasn’t thrilled about the mud soaking into her knees, but she had to admit it was probably more comfortable than kneeling on the hard ground. With an encouraging nod from me, my mother reached out a tentative hand and slid the tips of her fingers over the side of the little green animal.
She couldn’t help but smile a little bit at the smooth, gooey surface of the frog’s skin. Next, to her, my smile grew even wider. When the small amphibian in front of us suddenly ballooned his throat out into a giant bubble and let out a loud ribbit, both Mom and I jumped a bit in surprise. The giggling that erupted after that didn’t just come from me. When both of us had finished laughing and managed to catch our breath, my mother pulled me into a little hug.
“Thank you for introducing me to Ribbert,” she told me warmly, “and thank you for teaching me not to let a little bit of rain ruin my chance to enjoy spending time with my daughter.”
“Thanks for agreeing to take me camping,” I replied gratefully, wrapping my arms around my mother and hugging tight.
By the time the pair of us finally made our way back into the tent to dry off, it had begun to grow dark outside. We’d enjoyed watching Ribbert hop in a puddle after puddle, often jumping into our puddles along with him, and had caught raindrops on our tongues as we felt the mud squish between our toes. We were dirty and wet and cold, but we wrapped ourselves in towels and snacked on the fixings we’d brought for making s’mores long into the night. As we watched the footage of the little bonfire that my mother had pulled up on her phone and pretended to warm our hands around it, both of us felt nothing but joy at the day we’d had, even as the raindrops continued to fall outside.