This is a work of fiction.
By the time the others returned, it was time for Andy to take Steven and Dan back to their cabin for one last night.
The rest of us walked over to Emily and Andy’s camp site and the older kids and I helped to put up Emily’s tent.
Once that was done, we said goodnight and went back to our camp site. I fell asleep right away, and I think the others did, too.
The next morning, I heard voices and got up to investigate.
“Good morning!” Andy said. “I stayed up after the boys went to bed and packed everything so we could leave as soon as we woke up.”
Dan rubbed his eyes and said, “Yeah, he made us get up super early.”
“Yes, I did. I would have gone to our camp site, but I was afraid it might scare Emily if she was just waking up, and I didn’t want to call her.”
“You might have scared Grandma,” Sammy said. I hadn’t noticed him come out of the boys’ tent.
“I’m not scared,” I said.
Eventually, we made our way to the other camp site and found Emily just coming out of the tent with Sienna and Berkeley.
“Sleeping in a tent is so weird,” Sienna said. “It took me forever to fall asleep. I could feel the ground under me.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Curly said.
“Can you teach me how to build a fire?” Dan asked me.
“Yes. I’ll show your dad first though, and Emily.”
“Would you like to go first?” Andy asked Emily.
“Oh, no thanks.”
I showed Andy how to make a fire. He was a quick learner, and it was soon burning brightly.
Once we’d eaten breakfast, Freckles said, “Whose turn is it?”
“Whose turn for what?” Dan asked.
“Helping Grandma with the dishes.”
“Helping with dishes?” Emily said. “I like the sound of this. Please tell me, how do you get them to wash dishes?”
“I have a rule about it, but in return for good behavior, I pay them.”
“I don’t have any money,” Sienna said. “Mom, if I help wash the dishes, how much will you pay me?”
Emily looked at me questioningly.
“I pay based on their ages. You’re nine, right?”
“If you were helping me, I’d pay you $12.50 each time you helped wash or dry the dishes. Maybe combine your dishes and cooking so you don’t end up using as much.”
“How much would Dan make?” Andy asked.
“Same as Freckles, so $15 for helping. For children under six, I suggest $2.50 per job.” I smiled at Steven and Beerkeley.
Andy looked at all the dishes and said, “I think we need at least two or three people to wash and dry all these.” I nodded.
“I think it’s my turn,” Curly said. “Lydia’s next after me.”
“Oh, I don’t think Freckles had his turn either,” i said. “We ended up having that huge breakfast and there was no way he could have washed all that.”
“Oh yeah,” Curly said. “How about me and Freckles and Lydia show everybody else how it’s done!”
“I wanna help,” Sienna said.
“Me too,” Dan said.
Curly looked at the stacks of dishes and said, “Okay, I can sort of like, not boss you around or anything, but like, do what Grandma does.” He looked at me. “Is that okay?”
“Yes. I trust you not to be bossy.” He smiled and went to get the washtub.
When Emily saw it, she said, “Oops, I did’t think to bring one of those. I don’t think I even have one.”
“We’d better go into the city and buy one,” Andy said.
“Sorry about that,” I said. “I completely forgot you’d need one.”
“The water’s kind of hot,” Curly said. “I’ll pour it in, and then we can add some cold.”
I watched as Curly did a stellar job of directing his team. Freckles washed, Sienna rinsed, Lydia dried, and Dan put the dishes where they belonged.
“You guys are amazing,” Emily said.
“Totally,” Andy said.
“When do I get my paycheck?” Sienna asked.
“If you want an actual check, you’ll have to wait until we’re home.”
“But I want my money now!”
Lydia looked shocked.
“I think you might have forgotten a word there Sienna,” I said, when Emily didn’t say anything.
“What word?” Sienna asked.
“Please,” Lydia whispered.
“Oh yeah. I want my money now please!”
Emily fished in her purse and paid Sienna. Andy paid Dan, and I made a note to myself to pay Curly, Freckles, and Lydia later.
“We need to chop firewood today,” I said. “Who’s ready to go?”
“Me,” Curly said.
“Me too,” Freckles and Dan said at the same time.
“I don’t understand,” Sienna said. “Are you chopping down trees? That’s not good for the like, environment or something.”
“We need to, otherwise we can’t build any more fires,” I said. “I think the people in charge would like to answer your question about the environment, so please come with us.”
Sienna looked uncertainly at her mom, who nodded.
“Can I come?” Andy asked.
“Yes, everyone can come.”
Emily glanced at Berkeley, who was running around in the grass with Steven, pretending he was some kind of prehistoric monster.
“The boys can come and sit with one of us while the rest are working,” I said.
“Sounds like a plan,” Andy said. He and Emily called the boys over.
“We want to play,” Steven said.
I smiled at the two boys and said, “You can. We’re going to a big park, and you can play while we chop firewood.”
They liked that idea, and soon, we were on our way.