Since baby 3 will join us in twenty-one-days-or-less, I thought a little roadtrip to Banff might be in order this weekend. Especially since the week’s five days of rain and clouds had finally disappeared.
Secretly I hoped a vigorous hike might coerce B3 – whose latest name is ‘Jerry’ courtesy of his big brother’s addiction to Tom and Jerry cartoons – to abandon the comfort of the womb ahead of schedule. (Insert laughter and ‘wishful thinking’ comments here.)
We agreed Saturday night to skip church on Sunday and leave in the morning. I awoke around 2am with the distinct feeling that someone was rubbing my belly. Unable to open my eyes, I kind of felt around the bed to figure out what was going on. There was an interloper, alright: one five year old boy had come into our room and ensconced himself between Jason and me at the foot of our bed. I had no recollection of his arrival. ‘Are you rubbing my belly?’ I asked him in a sleepy, confused voice. ‘Did the baby kick you?’ he asked, hopeful that his rubbing of the proverbial lamp had awakened the baby genie. ‘Mmh,’ I replied. What is it with these children and their strange sleep patterns? The Hen asked me for a book the other night….at 3.30am.
Let’s hope it’s their last hurrah of crappy sleep before Jerry arrives on the scene.
The family began getting up in shifts, starting at 7am. I was the last to get up drag myself out of bed, at 8.30am. Still, it took an hour and a half to get all the stuff together for our little excursion. While the boys ate pancakes, I grabbed clothes, and snacks, and camera. Around 10 we headed out the door. Destination: Banff National Park.
We stopped on the way to get cash and a few more snacks at Safeway. Back on the road, the Hen closed his eyes for a snooze, which led me to believe I could safely eat the donut I’d bought at the grocery store. As I – very quietly – retrieved the pastry from the bag, the littlest one’s eyes opened. Instantly. And the oldest one leaned forward. ‘What are you eating? I smell something. I think I smell donuts. Are you eating a donut?’ It was a barrage of questions that left me speechless and Jason laughing.
‘They’re your children,’ he shrugged. And it’s true. The dog-like hearing and keen sense of smell…when it comes to food….can only be attributed to me. I was in the office the day before, eating a bowl of granola and yogurt. The Hen was playing with moonsand in the dining room. The spoon may have tapped the edge of the bowl as I prepared to take my first bite. Within seconds he was off the chair, running into the room saying: ‘I wan bi’ and settling himself into my lap.
Exposed, I reached into the Safeway bag and grabbed a plain glazed donut which I divided in two. I gave each of them a half. The Hen had taken no more than three bites when he started yelling ‘I wan mo….I wan mo.’ And there went the next donut.
When the Hen was finally asleep, I thought I’d make another attempt at eating – this time, a cheesy breadstick. I pulled it out of the bag – oh so quietly – and took a bite. ‘I smell something,’ my oldest yelled. ‘It smells like kitty food… Mom, are you eating another snack? Dad, is mom eating another snack?’
And there went half of my breadstick, too. Before my children were even born, I wondered what kind of gifts and talents they might have. This was not one of the gifts I had considered.
After two hours of driving, we arrived at Johnston Canyon. We decided to risk the 20 minute hike to the Lower Falls. It may sound like a nonevent, but consider the members of our hiking party: a 38 week pregnant woman and a 5 year old boy, who tends to start complaining he’s tired after ten minutes of walking. But, the promise of ice cream at the end, and an abundance of rocks to climb enabled him to persevere.
No family excursion would be complete without a minor disaster, of course. As we approached the end of the hike, the Hen was ‘viciously attacked’ by a bug. Meaning, the bug may have sat upon his head for a nanosecond. He started yelling ‘buh, buh’ and flailing his arms about. When his daddy told him the bug was on the ground, he went nuts and started trampling the (nonexistent) bug to death.
He spent the next four hours intermittently pointing to his head and saying ‘buh’. The painful recollection of his bug attack just too much to bear alone.
Meanwhile, the minute we were back in the car, the Gort started asking if he could play with his toys when we got home. As if we’d been on the road for weeks and weeks, and he hadn’t touched a matchbox car in days.
Things weren’t looking particularly positive, but we drove on to Lake Louise, thinking we could at least walk along the trail for a bit. Jason decided to test out the child carrier backpack a friend had loaned us, in an effort to avoid pushing around the gargantuan stroller. The Hen went ballistic. Screamed as if he’d been placed in a pack of fire. It was unreal. That, coupled with big brother’s declaration that he was simply too tired to walk uphill and was going to fall backwards, nipped our excursion in the bud.
We arrived in Calgary roughly eight hours after we’d departed. ‘I feel like I’ve aged ten years since we left,’ I said to Jason.
And to think, next time ‘Jerry’ will be along to add his ten cents to the mix.