A few weeks ago, Michael’s grandmother came by with a pop up tent for the beach. It was all folded up in a circle and came in a handy carrying case a little smaller than a hula hoop. It boasted that to use it, all you had to do was unzip it and toss! That’s it! A tent! Sounded good to me. I had been looking for a tent Ryan could sleep in during our beach days this summer and this appeared far easier than anything I had seen.


Our first beach trip of the summer was going well. We joined friends and their baby on the sand and spent the morning playing and relaxing. When Ryan started to get tired I decided to use the tent. As described, it was easy as pie. I literally just tossed it in the air and POOF! Down came a tent. My friend gushed over it, begging to know where my in-law and found it. She wanted one for herself.

Ryan’s nap was short-lived (my little creature of habit will have to get used to a new nap local), but boy was that tent nice. Roomy, shady, and again…so easy! Here, let me show you:


Oooooh. Ahhhhh.

When our day came to a close, I packed up all the zillions of beach things and went to close the tent. I hadn’t checked out the directions before because I figured, how hard could it be? It just pops up. It must pop back down.


What followed was quite the show. I struggled to fold up the tent with one hand while reading the Ikea-like picture instructions with the other. No dice. I pulled, I pushed, I twisted. Nope. Not even close. One of my friends started to give me a hand. Surely the two of us could figure it out. NOPE, NOT EVEN.

While this was going on, an older man sitting in his beach chair chewing on a cigar kicked up his feet and took in the show. He laughed — loudly — every time we failed. After flashing him what I only imagine was a stink eye made only by mothers with whining children covered in sand, he stood up and offered to help. Laughing, all condescending-like, he strutted over, cigar still in his mouth, and tried to figure it out.

Only, he couldn’t either. OH, who’s cocky now, Mr. Strutting Cigar Man?

Finally, after far too long of this nonsense, the kids were DONE and it was getting late. My friend and Cigar managed to wrangle the tent into a shape just small enough for me to jam in my trunk and wrapped the cord around it. I was thisclose to being unable to shut my trunk, but managed to get it home. Friend: “I no longer care to know where you got this tent. Do not want one. Ever.”

Upon arriving home, I put Ryan to sleep in his crib and left Owen, who had fallen asleep on the ride home, in the car. (In the shade, with the windows down — obligatory I-did-not-leave-my-baby-to-roast-in-the-car disclaimer.) I dragged the tent out of the trunk, untied the string and POOF! Oh look! A tent! SO F-ING EASY.

The next hour of my life went something like this. I beg of you to watch at least a minute of this video because THIS WAS ME. Only, angrier. With curse words. Actually, start at the 0:33 seconds mark and proceed to watch the tent pop open in her face. Then feel my rage.

See how she’s trying to hold the tent (“hold all four poles with one hand…”) while trying to decipher those nonsense directions with the other? Know why? Because those directions are BULLSHIT. The written directions mean nothing and the drawings of the man folding the tent are drawn as though you’re standing behind him so you can see…NOTHING. Except his ass, essentially. And that helps NOT AT ALL.

This went on for an hour. AN HOUR. I would get so frustrated that I would throw the tent in a fit of blind rage, only to have it pop open in the air (OOOH! A TENT!) and float back down to the ground all tent-like. There wasn’t even any satisfaction in giving it a good toss because that only resulted in a tent and ARRRGHHHH. I DO NOT WANT A TENT.

Finally, I realized that there’s no way I could be the only person who has ever wanted to murder this particular tent, so I turned to the all-mighty internet. What I found, however, was practically nothing of help, until a random image search landed me on a YouTube page in…German. Which lead me to more videos in German. Tons of videos in German of German people closing this tent.


I watched about three videos and while it certainly clarified things better than those bullshit instructions ever did, I still couldn’t do it. I finally gave up, fresh bruises on my arms from the tent popping up on me multiple times, and left it for Michael.

Only, I couldn’t let it go. I stewed on it. By this point I was so invested in it, was so determined to conquer the damn tent that I started searching again. This time, I unearthed another German video and it was pure gold. The guy who made it was so thorough. I mean, he would shoot the same step over and over from multiple angles. This guy was dedicated to helping you close your Abbau Pop Up Strandmuschel. Which I’m pretty sure translates into The Pop Up Tent From Hell.

It took a few viewings, but finally, FINALLY, I closed the tent. I was so proud of myself! I had conquered the beast! WOO HOO! I went inside and poured myself a stiff drink.


The tent is sitting in the family room waiting for it’s next beach adventure but I’m wary. Can I really close it again? I do not know. I will probably have to practice a few times before venturing out with it again.

Beware the Strandmuschel, friends.