By Holly Hester
It was getting dark when I noticed the first mosquito biting my leg. I winced, not because the mosquito bite hurt, but because I know how much my daughter hates mosquitoes. One mosquito bite could send her into a downward spiral of constant itching and obsessing about malaria. I glanced over and saw her slapping wildly at her legs and arms. She looked at me horrified and immediately marched over. "Can you go back to the pop-up with me and get my sweatshirt, pants, bug spray, hat, and antibiotic cream?" she asked. I sighed. It was the first time I had sat down all day. I was sun-weathered, my legs ached, and I hadn't had a decent night's sleep in a week. All I wanted to do was sit.
For the record, camping and I have only a cordial, if not strained, relationship. I just don't get the idea of taking all the stuff from inside your house, putting it outside your house so you can sleep and eat, then turning around and putting it all back inside your house. But my kids love camping, so I do it for them. So all week long, I had been filthy and tired, making sandwiches, filling up water bottles, and climbing up and down the hill to the river in 100-degree heat. Honestly, the whole time I was feeling pretty self-satisfied. Somebody better give me a Mother of the Year award for this. My heroic sacrifice will surely become one of our great family stories.
As my daughter walked and I hobbled to get her all the mosquito defensive items she had requested, her anti-mosquito ranting continued: "Mom, did you know the mosquito is the animal that kills the most people every year? More than the crocodile." I really couldn't take much more mosquito talk. "I think mosquitoes go to bed about this time, so you probably won't have any more biting you," I said. Now my daughter, who is seven and knows better said, "But mosquitoes are mostly nocturnal, right? So they wouldn't go to bed at night."
I said, "That's true." I had to confess. I was just too tired to make up another lie about mosquitoes. My daughter looked confused. "So if you know mosquitoes don't go to bed at night, why did you say that?" I said, "I don't know. I guess I was just trying to get you to stop focusing so much on the mosquitoes so you could enjoy your last night camping." I shrugged sheepishly and smiled at my daughter, but she didn't say a word. She just regarded me with a rather steely gaze.
Shortly after we had gotten properly bug-sprayed and were headed back to the campfire, we ran into my daughter's camp counselor, a blond woman of about 50 who is in a near-constant giddy state over nature. We said hi and then she leaned over to my daughter and said, "I'm just dying to hear all about what you learned camping this week."
And my daughter said, "I learned that my mommy lies."
All my hard work and that's what my daughter comes away with? Her mother's exhausted mosquito lie! And that's when I realized: These cute little buggers are just going to remember my slip-ups, aren't they?
So Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful, fabulous mamas out there. Please know that at least I understand and appreciate all you do. And I certainly don't mind if you need to lie every once in a while in the name of a good cause.
Holly Hester lives in Sebastopol and writes about life on her blog, Riot Ranch. Find her book, Escape from Ugly Mom Island!, on Amazon.