By Bridget Weldon
I’ve always been a bit of a nature lover. When my daughter was born, I developed a newfound appreciation for being outdoors. It meant an escape from the TV, the demonic electronic sounds of toys, and the unfolding mess that shifted continually throughout the day. It was something that could benefit both me and my daughter: she got to study nature and expand her young brain, and I got to soak in some Vitamin D and feel less like a zombie. Plus we have a perfect walking trail right beyond our yard that leads to either a horse farm or small pond with ducks and is frequented by friendly dogs. What could be better?
Once she learned how to walk, our little excursions became a bit more of an adventure. At first I still brought the stroller with me, but that soon became a pointless endeavor, as she loved to exercise her newfound independence. Of course, that also meant that our previously peaceful strolls had the ability to turn into terribly arduous tasks that made me question the decision to ever leave the house without the aid of a stroller, an electronic device, or a caffeinated beverage again.
In fact, it sometimes makes me question a lot of my life choices in general.
My feelings about our walks generally go through several stages, any of which can hit at any given time:
This was a good idea. Some fresh air, some exercise, a chance to explore the natural world. We’ll have conversations about the sounds of birds, possibly interact with people (but not too many people.) She’ll take a good nap later, too.
She’s listening so well; she’s actually holding my hand when crossing the street without throwing a tantrum….this was a good idea. She’s clearly getting better at this. Every day will only get easier. And now she wants to turn back early. Perfect. No dragging back a screaming toddler today!
Okay, she’s putting pine needles in her hair. No big deal, she’ll just need a bath later. It’s kind of cute…
“No! That’s a wasp’s nest/busy street/psychotic goose/mean neighbor’s yard/steep hill/deranged dog/possibly rabid squirrel! Do not run directly in that direction! It’s not funny, dammit! I am serious! Listen to me! I am the adult!”
I am not the adult. I’ve lost all control. She will never listen to me. I’m a failure as a parent. Everyone is looking out of their windows judging me right now. She’s judging me right now. Plotting. Scheming. And she’s only two.
It’s fine. This is fine. Look at that innocent smile. These are the moments I want to remember. So innocent…
“No, we don’t eat pine cones!”
“Okay, are you walking or am I carrying you? Sitting in mud is not an option!”
Too loud. I am a failure as a parent.
“How about we walk back and I’ll give you a snack? A banana? An orange? Cheese? Cookies? Chocolate pudding? Ice cream? Cake? Ice cream cake?”
“Do you want to race? I’ll race you to the…No, you can’t sit down to race.”
“Do you want to skip? Look at Mommy skip….No, you can’t sit down to skip.”
“How about I carry you back and we can watch Beauty and the Beast? The Little Mermaid? Minions? Moana? Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?”
“Do you want Mommy to call an Uber? We’ll sit here and wait for an Uber to take us the last two blocks.”
“Do you want Mommy to carry you? Please let me carry you. I’ll carry you back to your toys…”
It’s fine. This is fine. I’ll get in my weight-lifting for the day. Tantrums add resistance.
I can almost see home from here.
About the Author
In addition to the children’s novel The Sandcastle People, available at Amazon, my work has appeared on PopSugar and Parent.co. I’m the proud mother of a two year girl and a cuddly dog who thinks she’s a person.