Is Your To-Do List Too In-Tents?

By Mike Johnson

As kids, we were willing to do a hundred things to get the ONE big thing we wanted. Parents used this knowledge to get what THEY wanted. In this case, we wanted a sleepover in the tent.

The tent was canvas, bought at Sears. It had three “rooms” divided by two drop-down sheets. It held us three boys & whoever we invited over for the overnight.

Dad wouldn’t let us directly set it up.

First we had to mow the lawn. Weed the fence line. Wash the car. Fire up the BBQ.

THEN we could set up the tent.

Which required specialized knowledge, teamwork & half an hour of unrolling, spreading, assembling, threading, lifting, roping & pegging.

Then find & install the associated equipment.

The Coleman lantern (Careful! Don’t break the mantle!). The sleeping bags. The pillows. The comic books. The flashlight.

Finally, we’d cleared Dad’s to-do list.

Now we started on our own list.

The Twins played a late afternoon game so my buddy Dobbs & I biked a mile to Sol’s Supperette for snacks.

We’d each buy a quart of Pepsi (glass bottle, return for deposit), chips & a sack of various candy. We had to survive all the way to morning. Cradling full bags, we'd ride home one-handed.

Back in time for the first pitch, radio tuned to WCCO, fresh batteries installed.

Our to-do list was complete.

We finally settled into the magic moment that had pulled us through all that activity.

Dad was grilling burgers. Dobbs & I played catch next to the tent. The Twins broadcast in the background.


Today, my “tent” is an RV. It’s parked in the barn. Hooked to electricity. The sleeping bag is unrolled & ready, nestled in the bunk above the cab. Grab some snacks, a couple comic books, call the dog & we’re camping in a minute.

If only.

The house could use a vacuum. The firewood needs to be stocked. There’s that load of laundry.

All these years later, I still force myself to complete a to-do list before I can settle into the joy of a reward.

It’s like I don’t deserve the reward until I earn it.

What the hell? 50 years later I’m still under the thumb of parental upbringing.

Screw that. My baseball mitt is sitting right here. It’s MY lawn & my BBQ & my RV.

50 years later, I don’t remember all those completed chores.

I DO remember the magic moments.

Today, I’m going straight to the reward.


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