Part I: The Hike
"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
-- Henry David Thoreau
Clearly, HD did not walk with a pack of toddlers.
Kim: Hey all! Let's go to Mount Charleston on Monday with the kids! It'll be fun!
Deana and Courtney: Yeah! That sounds good!
Narrator: Pride comes before the fall.
::insert ominous music here::
After a mostly unadventurous trip up the hill (I rode with Deana and her boys while Courtney separately), we arrived at the base of Mary Jane Falls. I knew there was no chance of all of us actually getting to the top with five toddlers in tow - it's a 2-mile trek uphill - I thought we could at least make it to the start of the trail head. Brian and I had done the same trek with Scotty a few weeks ago and it worked great.
I underestimated the power of the resistant toddler. Particularly the resistant toddler in a group of his peers.
Sam (age 2) started the party off with a lively discussion about Blue Bunny being left in the car. She, through a series of high-pitched screams, conveyed to us that she was deeply concerned that we had intentionally left Blue Bunny in the car. Did we know about bunnies and hot cars? Do we really think this is a good idea? Blue Bunny may be scared or hot or lonely. Are we aware that Blue Bunny is her best friend? She felt it was best to relay this information to us by a steadfast refusal to walk up the trail, and instead, to kick, scream, and cry.
We had hiked approximately 50 yards when Courtney just completely lost it.
Usually the most mellow mom out of the group, Courtney could handle Sam's incessant whining no more. She looked at both Deana and I, hissed "I'm going to go get the [bleeping] [bleep] bunny from the [bleeping] car. Do you think that will quiet her down? What the [bleep]?" and took off down the trail at 60 mph.
Scotty paid no attention to any of chaos. Like a tiny Henry David Thoreau, the mountains are his special place and he appreciates the solitude of the area. So much so, he insisted on walking 20 yards behind us at any given moment.
I admit, I get this weird itch (not the literal kind) when I'm outdoors. As in, I want to go further and faster and see more stuff and get it all in. (I think this is why I like Boot Camp and running outside so much). This is incredibly annoying to just about anyone who is with me. Scott, as described above, is just about the complete opposite. He is the slowest slow poke of all of the pokes. And it makes me crazy. Consequently, I spent much of the morning yelling, "Hurry up! C'mon Scotty! PICK UP THE PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!"
I'm sure the other hikers just loved us.
Scotty finally gave up and decided to do some digging of his own.
Carson was clearly turned off by all of this juvenile behavior. When you are four and the rest of the gang is two, it's hard not to feel a little superior. I actually found myself counting on Carson like another adult (so it was four against four, not five against three) as we marched up the hill.
After snack time, we tried to pose the kids on a fallen tree. Seeing as though his feet were three inches off the ground (egads!), Super-Cautious-Bear had a meltdown. No Mommy! Too high! I could fall and...wrinkle my sock. The horror!
Part II: The Pond
We made our way to the Lodge for a quick lunch. The kids loved it because there was a giant man-made pond in front of the hotel, complete with two white ducks. While the adults sat down, attempted to catch their breath, and ordered lunch, the children took great fun in throwing whatever objects they could into the pond. Courtney noted that the water was not clear and it looked like a giant cess pool. We all shuddered, wondering which one of us was going to have to go in the water to retrieve a toy/an article of clothing/a child first.
Ten minutes later, we got our answer. Jackson, President of the Pushing Limits Club, picked up his little toy car and waved it dangerously over the pond water. "Jackson!" screamed Deana. "Don't do it! If you throw that car in, I'll - " and he cut her off by chucking the tiny car into the water with one swift motion. It made a "bloop!" and then disappeared in its watery grave, gone forever.
Courtney and I gasped.
Deana fell silent. All of the kids whipped around to see her reaction.
Deana jumped into action and dragged Jackson away by his limbs from the edge of the water. She put him in time-out, came back to the table and announced in her best Italian accent, "Lightening McQueen sleeps with the fishes." The three of us tried our best to mask our laughter since Jackson was still in time-out and all four of the kids were watching us.
Ah, Motherhood. Where was our food again? Does the Lodge serve wine? Oh right, it's only 10:45am.
Part III: The Drive Home
By the time we left the Lodge, we had three very tired two-year olds. Courtney headed off in her own direction, and Deana and I loaded our gang into their three-deep backseat. I'm not sure if you've ever seen three car seats squished together in the back seat of a car, but it's kind of cute.
The children, however, are not.
Scott, having spent the drive up teaching the twins how to swear and spit ("Alex! Say 'dammit!' Say 'dammit pfffffft!') , spent the drive home poking, slapping, and messing with a very tired Jackson. Every time I looked back, his hand was creeping over the imaginary line that divided the seats. Jackson was having none of this.
"Scotty's hitting me!" he wailed.
Scotty grinned with malicious satisfaction.
And I turned into my mother.
"YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF! DO YOU HEAR ME? WE WILL PULL THIS CAR OVER! YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!"
just like that, it was like it was 1986 and we were driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Scotty was me, Jackson was my sister, I was my mom, and everyone was miserable.
Deana, in an effort to turn this situation around, turned on every single Music Together CDs from the past two years. We sang, clapped, and bounced around in the front seat in an effort to distract Scotty and Jackson from killing each other and to keep Alex awake, who was quickly descending into sleepy-time territory, despite the cacophony in the car.
Yes folks, this is what Hell looks like.
I spent the rest of the day on the couch. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.
Mt. Charleston: 1, Mom's Group: 0.
Well played, Mt Chuck. Well played.