I spent Friday night sleeping with 40 men and boys.
That sounds much more risqué than it was – it was a Cub Scout overnight in a WWII submarine. A couple dozen boys and their DADS… I was the only mom.
When Ethan learned I signed us up for this adventure, he said, “You’re going to hate this – I bet the sub will smell like MEN!” Observant boy…
I’m a bit particular. Some may even say high maintenance. I’m pretty picky about the hotels I’ll stay at and I knew a submarine wouldn’t live up to my usual overnighting standards. But this wasn’t about me. It was about Ethan, and I knew he really wanted to go. I didn’t make a big deal out of it.
It was a unique opportunity (and, of course, completely amenity-less). Some observations and learnings:
- There’s a weird assortment of things missing from our move earlier this year. Things we can’t find: my favorite cocktail shaker, our sleeping bags (which we’ve previously used for “camp outs” in the back yard), my muffin tin, a small purple duffel bag. Strange things is, that this stuff was in different places in the old house, so how it all ended up missing is a mystery. So, Ethan and I had to buy new sleeping bags for this adventure. It’s probably not a bad thing to have Ethan in a “big boy” sleeping bag (instead of the “Cars” one that is now MIA).
- The sleeping arrangements were surreal. Forty beds in a tiny room, smaller than my living room. Bunks three high. Single bunks on either wall, double bunks (like two twins) in the center. Ethan and I slept side-by-side on the top double bunk. I was terrified all night that he’d roll off and fall the six feet to the hard, steel floor. But the middle bunk didn’t have enough room to sit up and the bottom bunk did not allow enough room to even roll over. Plus, I got my hair stuck in the bed springs of the middle bunk when I was checking out the space. I had to scalp myself to break free. (Of course, I was hysterically laughing at my predicament, thinking that only *I* could get my hair stuck in the beds on a submarine…)
- Speaking of the sleeping arrangements, I had one dad’s feet nearly touching my pillow (uncomfortable), and another dad (who’s like 6’10”) was sleeping on the bunk on the other side – he really tried hard to keep his legs and feet on his bed. He slept diagonally to keep his legs on his bed and not intrude on my space.
- Dads apparently don’t “hear” kid noise. Imagine dozens of 7- and 8- year old boys running around, “playing” submarine at 10 p.m. The noise was ridiculous – and the dads were standing around talking to each other or looking at their smart phones. Ethan wasn’t even the loudest or most aggressive or craziest kid there (thank goodness!). The noise level would NOT have been tolerated (or probably even attempted) if moms were there.
- Imagine the “lights out” call and three boys continuing to SCREAM for five minutes, then 10 minutes… I had ear plugs in – I could have slept through, but Ethan wasn’t going to go to sleep as long as something was going on, so I called it. “Boys! Lights out! Any questions about what that means? Shut it and go to sleep!” Several dads snickered, but none chimed in to encourage bedtime. Luckily, the boys obeyed.
- Lights out at 11:30 p.m. is WAY too late for boys who are used to 8 p.m. bedtimes (as confirmed from conversations with moms). Boys were breaking down before the activities even started at 7:30. A handful of boys were reduced to tears for a variety to reasons including not understanding the fire drill instructions and lost stuffed animals.
- It was crazy hot inside the sub. Outside was around 30 degrees, but inside (on the top bunk) was around 85 degrees. I was a hot, sweaty mess in the morning – and I never even got under the sleeping bag covers.
- Ear plugs are crucial when sleeping around men and boys. Imagine the snoring and grunts and other weird nighttime noises coming from dozens of snoozing bodies.
- Being the only mom on the trip meant that the women’s restroom was extremely clean, so that was an awesome positive.
- TMI observation (you might want to skip to the next bullet. You’ve been warned): nothing made the night more uncomfortable than being on my period. Yep, an overnight trip with men and boys, and I was bleeding heavily, like I had been shot in the vagina. Just one more thing to think about all night (“Please don’t let me bleed all over myself, my yoga pants, my bedding and the pleather-esque mattress and have to explain to young boys why there’s blood everywhere!”) Luckily, everything was okay. Whew!
- Finally, I have complete and total admiration for the men who served aboard subs. The space is incredibly tight and it’s hot and stuffy. Men would spend months on subs like these in the hot, steamy Pacific. I can’t imagine… but I am entirely thankful for their sacrifice.