By Jayme H. Mansfield
No sooner had we reached our camping site than the gray sky burst open like an overstretched water balloon. Four adults and five kids scrambled under a plastic, makeshift tent tethered between two skinny pine trees.
Nose-to-nose, we wiggled around one another attempting to avoid rain dripping off the edges of the tarp and running down the backs of our shirts. Finally settling in to a jigsaw configuration, the next order of business was, “What do we do now?”
Never a family for inactivity or lack of a little friendly competition, Uncle David proudly announced, “It’s time for the Rock, Paper, Scissors Competition.” Pairs were formed, namely the person in closest proximity. Aunt Mary Clare was lucky enough to receive a “bye” the first round and assumed the much-needed officiating role. Rules were reviewed and debated and, what was to become known as the First Annual Rochambeau Ruckus began.
Eliminations were met with groans and protests. Bodies shifted to make way for the next level of competitive pairings. Adrenaline was pumping – rocks beating scissors, paper covering rocks, scissors cutting paper. Even the youngest tried to pull a fast one with dynamite blowing up everything. Though given points for creativity, he too was ousted in the semi-finals.
Narrowed down to the final round, I was up against my husband. The tension mounted and sides were chosen as the title of “Rochambeau Champion” was moments away. I threw a rock, crushing his scissors. He threw a sly paper, smothering my rock. Score: One-to-one. We eyed one another, sizing up the strategy in the other’s cerebral cortex. “One, two …” we counted in unison as our fist met palm. On “three” I threw the deadly rock again, once more crushing his scissors. There’s something to be said for consistency.
Despite the steady rain, I was unable to contain myself and leapt out from under the canopy jumping and raising my arms in victory as the crowd of seven cheered, clapped, and laughed. My husband displayed less enthusiasm, as he contemplated why he hadn’t thrown a paper. Uncle David captured my victory lap around the soggy campsite on his video camera, adding priceless interviews from the spectators and second place recipient who vowed to dominate the event next year.
When the sky cleared, we set up our tents, dragged out the food and settled around the campfire. The rain hadn’t dampened our fun. Instead, it helped us find an occasion to huddle a little closer, laugh and giggle a little more, and enjoy one of those silly, seemingly unimportant moments that make family and spontaneity so good for the soul.
Mother of three boys, ages 10, 12 and 16, teacher of 30 kindergarteners and a varied mix of art students, Jayme H. Mansfield’s life demands embracing spontaneity and laughter.