There are somethings you attempt as a parent and learn quickly to NEVER do again. I like to think of these as nuggets of wisdom ... hard earned ones. So here I share my lessons with you in the hopes that you might do better than I
1. Never attempt a fun outing that is a long distance away with a tired child
I got an email about a $1 deal for an indoor amusement park in Mesa. We wanted a family outing and cheap fun in the summer heat is hard to come by so planned for it for a Monday night. Unfortunately Isaac woke up extra early (by that we mean 5:30) and I chose to ignore the warning bell sounding in my head, reasoning that I was sure he'd nap on our drive out. He was so excited that he COULDN'T nap (or so he claimed) until he was chattering one minute and the next minute his chin was sagging and banging his chest with every bump of the road. Of course this occurs 15 mins before we arrive so we took a 'scenic' route. Unfortunately when we turned off the ignition, he woke up a very, VERY disoriented grumpy child. Needless to say it was a bit of a trying evening, he didn't like the rides (as evidenced by his bland expressions) was displeased with supper but turn his frown upside down when he was sideswiped by another kid around the playground apparatus. I was pretty sure it would be a total meltdown but instead he thought the boy would be his perfect playmate. They spent the rest of the evening running around screaming and racing each other.
2. Never attempt camping with a child old enough to notice his/her surrounds but too young to understand that a tent does not mean homelessness.
Kent has been trying to talk me into doing some camping for 'fun'. I think it has to do with he fact that Isaac LOVES it and that somehow the Scoutmaster bug has infected him such that he's positive if I'd try it a few times I'd actually grow to like it. (At least this is the mantra he tries with the boys) When I was younger we did indeed go camping and I do remember loving it, but it was nothing like what he does. First of all, we had a tent trailer, not the suffocating nylon sheets that pass for primitive housing. Second of all, up in Alberta all the camp sites we went to had working toilets and some even had showers. Granted you had to walk a ways to them, but it was a luxury that I was rather fond of. Thirdly, when we camped, we did NOT eat pork and beans out of a can. That would be considered repulsive. My mother always fed us well, perhaps too well (marinated steaks, pork chops, drumsticks with a plate of stir fried veggies on the side) such that a camping meal was akin to starvation in my mind.
But, I am an open minded woman and I love my family so when the ward camp out came up, I thought, we could do a night. What's one night up in the woods in a tent? It was a last minute decision since Kent hadn't been feel well as of late, but I busted my guts getting things ready after being at preschool all morning and we left at around 4:30 Friday afternoon. The drive up was beautiful and I began to have idyllic pictures of us getting cozy by a fire roasting marshmallows.
We arrived as the sun was setting and set up camp right away. I was in charge of getting the us situated inside the tent and was quickly realizing that when they say a 3 man tent, they literally mean 3 small men and absolutely NOTHING ELSE WILL FIT size of a tent. It was a little closer than I like but hey, I can do this, it's for the family! Keila was fussy but I thought this a function of hunger and the fact that she couldn't get her feet under her and kept flop sliding from one sleeping bag to another.
Kent whipped up the Ramen noodles and beef stew but that wouldn't placate her. It became clear that she was so disturbed by the change in her surroundings that the only way she'd be happy was if I was holding her AND standing. Not something I would do all night long. So after an hour and half drive, and a 2 hr stay, I drove Keila home. We got back around 9:30 where she wiped out in the car seat. The next morning we got up and drove back to get Kent and Isaac. We stayed a while so that she could enjoy the great muddy outdoors. Suffice it to say, the packing, cleaning, travel and recovery time (obviously Kent and Isaac didn't sleep well) was about 4X the amount of fun. Never again ....
The older children were such good sports to play with the little ones!
Check out the muddy pants!