Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Walk in The Park

"A walk in the park" implies something is easy, right? Heh.
So I took my kids on a walk in the park. We live near Northwest Branch, which is acres and acres of undeveloped parkland on the northwest branch (duh) of the Anacostia River. There are trails leading down to the creek, a five minute walk from our house. We take this trail at least once a week. It's a steep trail towards the end, but they literally walk it ALL THE TIME. So I had no reason to believe this day would be different.

We start off running happily to the woods. We walk down the trail with gleeful abandon, enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We throw rocks.

We eat snacks.

Some of us eat dirt, but we are all happy, so whatever.

Lucy dunks her feet in the water. I say "Oh, Lucy the water is cold - take your feet out!" She says, with an air of genuine confusion "Ummm...these are my shoes..." Okay yes. But there ARE feet in them, yes? But I don't push it. If she wants cold wet feet walking home, it's a great learning experience. I'm all about natural consequences.

Then we all want water. No problem! Mama is prepared! I brought my water bottle, Malcolm's water bottle and a yellow sippy cup because I couldn't find Lucy's water bottle.

That stupid stupid yellow sippy cup.

Malcolm doesn't want his water bottle. He wants the stupid yellow sippy cup. Lucy, being four and exceptionally good at it, will not share. Fine. It is her stupid yellow sippy cup today, even though she could easily have used the water bottle instead of the stupid yellow sippy cup. But a girl has to stand on principle when it comes to these things or next thing you know your little brother wants to use your toys and we can't have THAT happen, now can we? Generally she doesn't use them at all, and this is usually Malcolm's stupid yellow sippy cup...so you see the problem.

Then, Lucy suddenly declares she's done with the stupid yellow sippy cup.  So I offer it to Malcolm.  She snatches it away.

Lucy: No!  He can't have it!

Me: Why?  I can refill it with the water from my bottle.

Lucy: I don't want your water, Mama.  I want MINE.  AND I WANT IT NOT IN MALCOLM.

Sooo...I distract! Rocks! Throw rocks! Yay! Throwing things is fun! This works for a bit, but Lucy is too smart for phyllising* anymore and Malcolm is amazingly singleminded for a two year old. He decides he's fed up, and takes off.

I barely have time to gather our snack and strong-arm Lucy into following me before he's out of sight. Next to a 20 foot drop off into rocky, running water. They start running down the path. Crisis averted...?

Fat chance.  Mal wants up the hill, Lucy wants the trail. And a piggyback. And then Mal suddenly wants water again. From the stupid yellow sippy cup. And now Malcolm won't walk anymore because HE WANTS SOME DAMN WATER FROM A DAMN STUPID YELLOW SIPPY CUP, ALREADY. 

Now I try reasoning with Lucy.

Me: Lucy, I can't leave Malcolm behind, and he won't walk because he's upset about the damn stupid yellow sippy cup**. I have to carry him. I can't carry both of you.

Lucy: YOU HAVE TO! I want a piggyback! I'm too tired to walk anymore! Put Malcolm down NOW!

Me: I have to carry Malcolm. If you want me to give you a piggyback, you have to share the stupid yellow sippy cup with Mal.

Lucy: NNNNOOOOOOoooooooooooOooOoOoOoOoOooooooo! Just carry me! You have to do it!

Circular discussion ensues. Malcolm continues wailing my my ear.

I put Malcolm down because now he's struggling to get out of my arms and tackle Lucy for the SYSC***. I power on up the hill, hoping they'll shut up for 10 seconds and follow me, which they do, but not happily. This is my view during that walk up the hill.

I periodically stop and try to reason with Lucy. She periodically cries about how scared she is to climb the hill she climbed 48 hours earlier without a second thought. Malcolm periodically throws himself down in despair of ever getting to drink water again (even though there are about 40oz of water between my bottle and his, happily waiting for his muddy little mouth to swill them down). Lucy is holding my legs and crying, stomping ahead wailing, yelling at me for a piggyback ride because she's too tired. Finally, I lose it. I grab her arm and pull her back and shout "Just LISTEN TO ME!" in a final fruitless effort to get her to understand that if she just shares the SYSC with Malcolm, he'd be happy and I could give her a piggyback. I realize this wasn't the fairest solution to the issue, (perhaps Malcolm could just drink some water out of another vessel) but Malcolm is two and not real big on rational thought. So being flexible on a REFILLABLE STUPID YELLOW SIPPY CUP THAT YOU DON'T EVEN WANT ANYMORE might be an easy way to get what you want. This doesn't go down well with Lucy. Not only am I yelling (so much for a peaceful walk in the woods), but I caused her to trip and fall over when I grabbed her arm. I'm the best mom ever.

So what's a mom to do? It's lunch time. Everyone clearly needs a nap. We are about a mile from home, with at least 1/4 of it uphill, through the woods. No one but me appears able or willing to propel themselves forward under their own power. So I pick up Malcolm and run him up the hill 20 or 30 yards. I put him down, run back and get Lucy and do the same thing. Malcolm. Lucy. Malcolm. Lucy. 30 lbs. 45 lbs. 30 lbs. 45 lbs. Uphill. Downhill.

That stupid stupid stupid yellow sippy cup.****

When Malcolm sees the jogger I had left at the top of the hill, he runs excitedly up to it. I pick Lucy up one last leaden time and dump her in the stroller. Malcolm, of course, can't be bothered with riding and wants to run home. Or halfway home. When he stops, sits down, and takes his shoes and socks off motivated by some weird toddler inner need to periodically remove footwear at inappropriate times. Let me remind you that it is barely 60 degrees out, and the sidewalk is covered with crushed acorns from the neighborhood's overzealous, littering bastard squirrel population.

Now my jogger is actually a converted bike trailer. So there is a longish metal support that sticks out from the stroller and curves forward to hold the front wheels (or attach to the bike). Malcolm wants to ride on the support, not in the stroller. This is a bad idea on many levels, especially barefoot. But he won't be dissuaded. I try a few things but quickly discover that I literally cannot go anywhere. I can't push the stroller and carry Malcolm in my arms because that's like carrying a crocodile as it is trying to roll you. I can't drag the stroller behind me and tilt the front wheel off the ground (to discourage Mal from copping a squat over the support rail) because he grabs the rail and throws himself down on it. I can't put him in the stroller because Lucy won't move over and make room for him, and besides the SYSC that started this whole sorry state of affairs is still firmly clamped in her unyielding little fist.

So I stopped, parked the stroller on the grass and laid down on the sidewalk.

Me: I give up.

Malcolm: MAMA! (He runs over and dives on top of me and gives me a hug).

Lucy: Why'd you give up, Mama?

Me: I'm just...a terrible mom..

Lucy: No. No, no, no! You're a great mom!

Sigh. Tears.

Being a mom is a walk in the park.

*Phyllising: the act of distracting or drawing a small child's attention away from or towards a particular activity or train of thought, as masterfully practiced by by my mother, Phyllis. It can also be used on adults, though it must be much more subtle than "Stop doing that, let's throw rocks!"
**I didn't actually say this to Lucy.
***I'm tired of typing it out. But it deserves its full honorific.
****I'm blaming the stupid yellow sippy cup here, but I think perhaps my parenting skills can be called into question.