For some reason I keep dragging my kids out to experience nature and for some reason it’s a miserable failure each time.
I went to Fish Creek Park no fewer than three times last week. These are the last weeks of summer and we need to make the most of it and for some reason I think that means we need to get out of the house and go be in nature. And my companions couldn’t agree less.
They like small aspects of each adventure, like standing by a stream, chucking rocks into said stream. But the Hen has no interest in doing any kind of walking. He wants to sit in a stroller and be pushed around nature. Which means I have to carry the actual baby who can’t walk in the front carrier. And, though the baby is not exactly chunky, anything more than ten pounds starts to feel heavy after about fifteen minutes.
The Gort is fine with walking. But no farther than two hundred yards. Anything else will require an insane amount of begging/pleading/threatening on my part and an insane amount of whining and complaining on his part.
Also the mosquitoes are evil and omnipresent; undeterred by layers of clothing.
So on Saturday, for the third time that week, we dragged our beloved boy-children out of the house to the great outdoors. The Hen started crying the minute he stepped onto the pavement; when he realized his dad intended for his baby brother to ride in the stroller. Lest you think such a crying fit might be like a fast and furious summer thunderstorm, think again. The Hen can sustain a tantrum longer than anyone I’ve ever seen. Well, except maybe his older brother.
I suppose there are two schools of thought regarding dealing with such a situation: (1) keep walking, he’ll stop crying eventually; (2) turn around and get back in the car. The ‘no soup for you’ approach.
Minor problem(s): (1) after ten minutes he showed no sign of stopping and it’s a Saturday morning – people actually escape to these sorts of places for peace and quiet and (2) as I mentioned before, we are the ones who want to go on these outings. The children could care less if they ever leave the house, it seems.
So we stopped to eat muffins and the Hen gained control of the stroller. We were moseying along rather happily and found a dirt trail leading up a hill. ‘The road less traveled’ as it were. So we abandoned the stroller and everyone climbed to the top. At the top, the Gort announced that he was completely ‘out of energy’ and that he needed to ride in the stroller for the remainder of the journey. He proceeded to book it down the hill, just so he could get to the stroller first. The Hen, significantly shorter and younger, failed to keep up.
As only a big brother could do, the Gort jumped in the stroller, and sat – thoroughly unfazed by his younger brother’s blood-curdling screams and pitiful attempts to pull him out of said stroller. It was comical when we observed it from the top of the hill. Not so much once we were down there, right in the middle of world war III.
We let the oldest – who surely exceeds the weight limit of the jogging stroller – ride in it for two minutes and turned it over to his brother. Conflict resolved, except for the theatrical limping and excessive complaining coming from the Gort.
I ordered all the boys to sit on a branch so I could record our collective awesomeness. By the time I made it back to the stroller where all the boys were gathered, world war IV had begun. This time, between father and oldest son. Over a water bottle.
Sometimes – extremely rarely – I astound myself with my calmness and textbook parenting. ‘We’ll talk about this in the car,’ I dismissed the matter.
‘You need to talk to daddy the most,’ the Gort protested, ‘because he’s the oldest and he should know better.’
Note to self: the ‘you’re the oldest, you should know better’ line is really backfiring.