Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gotta Laugh to Keep from Cryin'

Before we had kids, Grinch and I would take long walks, hikes in the woods or trips to the beach and enjoy the peace and quiet. More than once, the tranquility was broken by the sound of screeching kid or wailing infant. Grinch and I would shoot glances at the "offending" family and mutter that people should keep their screaming kids at home or teach them how to behave in public. Harumph. We knew so much about kids before we actually had some of our own.

A couple of weeks ago we took the kiddos to a nature preserve near our house. When we got to the path, the Bug took off running, so happy to be in the forest YAY! Five minutes into the walk: stumble, bumble, crash, blood, tears and an early trip home.

Saturday, we tried again. 65 acres of undisturbed forest, paved paths, twittering birds, peace and quiet. Ahhhhh....hahahah! Not so fast! We got to the forest entrance and the bug was already whining. "I'm hungry, Daddy. I'm hunnnnngry." We tried distracting her, encouraging her, promising a fantastic picnic lunch when the walk was done. No. "I'm hunnnnnnnnngry NOW." Fine. Back to the picnic tables where it seemed like a majillion snarky, cursing pre-teens were milling around, grumbling and flipping each other off. She happily ate her sandwich. Grinch and I ate ours in steely silence while Dos dribbled Cheerios all over the ground.

Ok. Lunch is done. NOW we can go walk in the forest, right? Walking, no running. No running, no falling, right? Right. At the start of the trail, the paths go in two directions. We wanted to go to the right, the bug wanted to go to the left. She wanted to go to the left so badly, that she started crying. (Why we didn't just go to the left, I do not know. Quite obviously, parenthood has eaten our brains. I think we were "standing our ground." Knuckleheads.) She cried THE ENTIRE WALK. The serenity of the forest was broken with a low-key moan of "I don't want to. I don't waaaaaaaant toooooooooo." You would have thought the 1/4 mile stroll through the woods was the Bataan Freaking Death March for Toddlers. I even tried bribing her with an offer to run. "Wanna run? You can run if you hold my hand! Come on, let's run!"
"Nooooooo! You can't RUN in the forest! You'll FAAAAAALL!"

Grinch and I just kept walking, making small talk about family gossip, and glancing behind us to make sure the bug was still there. We thought we had a chance at calming the storm near the end of the walk when we came across a huge spiderweb and its owner. "Look! What a pretty spiderweb! And such a big spider! Oooooh, it has pretty stripey legs, doesn't it?" She smiled and nodded, her eyes wide though red-rimmed from crying. She quieted for a minute....which was Dos' cue to start crying. I hiked up my shirt, walking and nursing and grinning at how ridiculous the whole thing was.

Dos finally quieted so Bug and her wails of complaint had center stage again. The end of the path was in sight and she was still crying, "I don't want tooooooooo." She finally stopped crying when we were completely out of the woods (ha!) and Grinch was able to distract her from her trauma with a look at some petrified wood. I wandered around, shaking off the tension and wondering if we'd scarred the bug for life. She'd never want to go for a walk in the woods ever again. I was sure of it.

The car ride home was blessedly short and quiet. In the driveway, Grinch and I were unbuckling the girls from their car seats, still shaking our heads at how badly everything had gone. That's when the bug smiled and said, "That was FUN!"

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