Sunday, August 13, 2006

Campin' with a kid

Oh, by the way, before I get started, Aaron posted pics from Lollapalooza on his site. Here's the link:

If it looks in the pics like it was freaking hot outside, that's because it was. It was really hot. It looks like it's hot in the pics, but then again I was there, so my perception might be a bit off.

Taking a two year old camping for the first time is an interesting and humbling experience. My daughter is one of these "cautious" kids. She's not the first kid to run out and try something new--she prefers to study things from a distance, think about them, and then do them. (P.S. This is not a bad trait--in fact, I would argue that being cautious can be a positive thing. I have never had to tell Grace to stay away from strangers. It just doesn't occur to her to run up to someone she doesn't know.) So, being that Gracie has a cautious and tentative nature, I was more than a little nervous to take her camping for the first time. My fears were almost confirmed when we pulled into the campsite and she started whimpering, "Go home now."

But, after some gentle coaxing (and the wonderful invention of a portable DVD player and her "Elmo Goes to the Doctor" DVD), I got Gracie out of the car. Aaron did his usual fabulous job of letting Gracie warm up to him and then playing with her at her pace, so by the time bedtime rolled around, Grace trotted into the tent (yep, no pop-up campers here) and fell asleep like she had been doing this all her life. Proud mommy moment #1 for the weekend.

Saturday was...well, interesting. I could tell Gracie was still tired when she woke up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. (It's hard to sleep in when you're two, apparently.) But, she practically sprinted out of the tent and began the day in earnest. She was fascinated with all of the bugs flying around and began marching around the campsite singing a little song to herself. (This was totally adorable. I could only understand parts of the song, but there was talk of a piano and "mama and Grace" and "Grampa and Grace". I guess she picked the song up at day care. Either way, it was so cute.) "This is going to be a breeze," I thought to myself.

The three of us had to head into town because I totally spaced and forgot pullups for Grace and a chair for myself, so after breakfast, we piled into the car and headed to the nearest town. Things were fine until we got through the checkout line and Grace grabbed a bag of Skittles that we had no intention of buying. Ugh. This is the point at which every parent has an internal argument. Do I cave and buy the damn Skittles so she doesn't have a fit, or do I stick to my guns and make her put them back, and then proceed to carrying a screaming, flailing child out of the store while everyone stares at us? Aaron (bless his heart) made the decision for me and grabbed the Skittles out of Gracie's hand and put them back. Naturally, this sent her into orbit and the screaming and flailing commenced. (I love old people. As I was carrying my sobbing, screaming child out of the store, a little old lady smiled at me and said, "Someone's not happy." Oh yeah, she's been there. Sure beats all of those smug non-parents who stare and roll their eyes and think, "Hmm, I would certainly do a better job". I know this because I used to think that myself.) This shall henceforth be referred to as the Great Skittle Incident of '06, because it took probably 45 minutes to get Grace back to civility--of course, she went from sobbing to napping, so I have a feeling all of the fresh air had already gotten to her.

In the afternoon, we decided to try to take Grace swimming at the lake that was at the campground. Grace was, naturally, a bit hesitant to go in the water at first, but soon she had her shirt off and was splashing Aaron and me and laughing hysterically. We had a blast--some kids had caught some frogs in a pail and Gracie was totally fascinated. At one point, Grace started picking up small stones off the beach and tossing them back into the lake (to set them free, no doubt). Aaron would then gather the stones back up and place them in a little pile on the beach, and the game would begin again. Proud mommy moment #2.

After ample time in the lake, we headed back to the campsite for supper. Grace did just fine until the food was just ready to be served, when she lost it and I decided that it was time for bed. Turns out I was right--Grace fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. (Almost--it still took some work.)

This morning we devoted quite a bit of time packing up and taking down the tent. Gracie helped as much as she could, picking up stakes and putting them in their bag and sitting on things when they needed to be smushed down. Towards the end of our time there, I asked Grace if she wanted to go home, and much to my surprise, she shook her head "no". Proud mommy moment #3.

So, now we're back home. Gracie is napping, Aaron's back home in Milwaukee and I have had my seven minutes of ecstasy in the form of a hot shower. I'm truly sad that the weekend's over--of course, the Sunday afternoon blues have become a fixture in my life ever since Aaron and I started dating long distance--but this afternoon I'm a little sadder than usual because camping is over, too. My little girl made me very proud this weekend.