Tales from the Cabin
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Pop Is Pooped from Packing

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it
By Sean Michael Bradley
Published: June 1, 2007
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Sean Michael Bradley and one of his four sons, who is in a “foldy thing.”
Photo by Sean Michael Bradley
I am hip. I am happening. I am a hands-on patriarch of a family of four boys, and I am 30-something – because trendsetters are saying that 40 is the new 30. However, with all my boys under the age of seven – the two youngest 19 months apart and one newborn – I don’t always feel like 30-something.
   
So I’m thinking that nobody is more deserving of a quick trip to the cabin than the Daddy-O standing in the driveway. But there’s a driveway full of what appears to be the contents of a Skymall Magazine for kids pouring out of my home, and I’m not so sure I’ll ever get it all packed into the minivan.
   
Each clever device designed to make life with youngsters a little easier seems to be represented. Every-thing folds or telescopes or rolls – or carries things that fold, telescope or roll. Yes sir, if there is a child’s product that is capable of turning into something three to four times its original size, I own it. Some of the things I just call “foldy things” because I am not really sure just what they are.

What I am sure of – because it’s been made very clear to me – is this: The massive tangle of colorful debris on the front porch is going to the cabin. All of it.
   
Now, I’ve been married over 10 years, and I have tried the fundamental consolidation attempts: If the high chair has wheels, can’t it be a stroller? And is there any reason the potty seat can’t sub as a high chair? Why two potty seats? Is there a potty event I need to know about? One time, I actually tried to convince my wife that I could fabricate a crib from the live well lashed to the dock. No dice.
   
She took the time to reduce the travel necessities to the landfill-like pile at my feet. So I think, “be a man and pack it up.”
   
I did toy with the notion of leaving the kids behind to make room for their stuff, but I would feel funny going north with no kids and two potties packed.
   
But it is the toys that get me. I don’t remember needing clothes baskets full of toys when I was young. In fact, the only things I can remember bringing that I could consider toys were a rusty bucket, a bent spoon and a BB gun. Apparently I had plans to break out of prison sometime during the weekend.
   
I manage to fill the minivan to capacity by using all available spaces including the legroom area in front of my wife and by strapping a bunch of duffels to the roof rack. And eventually we do hit the road to
the lake.
   
These packing experiences have led me to the reason why people buy Ron Popiel’s Pocket Fisherman. It’s a gift to the dads of the world, and it’s the one foldy thing we get to bring. But perhaps Ron should invent the folding double potty … with wheels … and a collapsible tray … that would conceal my bald spot. I can only hope it’s coming soon. I’d make room for that.

With growing boys and a shrinking minivan, Sean Michael Bradley is trying to figure out how to fold time and space.
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