You know you have put on a real show when the lady at the sub shop gives you a military discount and says, “Parenting is a lot like serving in the military. Keep it up.”
The kids are running back and forth, grabbing chips off of the shelf [who puts chips at a toddler’s eye level? Evil people do, because they know you can’t say no very often to the little tyrants]. They are yelling, “Don’t put lettuce on mine! I want soda”.
I leave Eric alone with the rebel troop to go save the puppy who has decided to hang herself on one of the car seats in the car. I come back to find two kids crying and one throwing their lettuce on the ground. Deep breaths…..its going to be worth it in a while….its going to be worth it.
We drive for another hour and the kids quiet down to the jostle of the SUV and their ears tickled by the (horrid) ‘Rock a Bye Baby’ Pandora station. Deep breaths indeed.
As we hit the high desert, a posse of tumbleweeds rolls down the highway like a herd of cows escaping the farm. Eric slows down, as if they are alive, and I sit up in my seat to watch- because I always give the tumbleweeds personalities. Whenever I see a tumbleweed bouncing around, away from its collected group in the valley crevices, I cheer them on: ‘keep on rolling buddy, you never know where you will end up- keep going!’ I think its my subconscious’ way of encouraging myself to flee from the crowds. But then I see one get stuck under a picnic bench and I can relate with that one too. I was going to tell Eric that I think its Gods way of telling us we need to travel around the world, but I didn’t.
Even though its been a rough week, and we are all sort of sick, there is excitement in the air- we are going somewhere we have never been before, which makes me feel more alive and adventurous. The reservoir is as expected: dusty, windy, and man-made. We get out for five minutes and the two year old yells, “This is Awesome”, over and over. I don’t know if he understands what ‘awesome’ means yet, but maybe he was just glad to feel the wind on his snot covered face. The kids start digging in mud and I start to say ‘no’, but instead decide to be quiet. Sometimes saying ‘yes’ is just more fun for kids.
We let the kids drive up out of the canyon and they think they are really driving (suckers). My daughter is about to flip a gasket in the back when the two year old is driving. She says she doesn’t want a turn, and I say she isn’t going to eat again today unless she drives, because I don’t want her to be a sissy (remember I’m in the military now). We pretend she is the only one that can get us out of the canyon. Of course she loves it.
After torturing the sparse fisherman on the shore with honking horns and drunk-type displays of driving, we buckle back up and head to find a river that we noticed on the map. Eric finds it this time and he is real proud and glad to be the one who is right for once, when it comes to rivers that is.
Even though the wind is picking up, and the river looks murky, I still get hyped up to see how the water bends and to guess where the fish are stacked. I think it’s just being away from people that makes me crave this adventure. As we follow the trail that meanders through the open range, I accidentally tell my daughter that in some countries they use cow pies to burn for fires. I look back and see her filling her empty chip bag with cow poop and she yells, “Mom, I got a bunch of poop to burn later”. I want to say no, but again decide to say yes.
I fish for a bit and the cow pies turn into mud pies and snot mixes with mud on faces. After I came across a duck blind and some decoys, we decided to pack up the river-side party and head to the sand dunes, potato chip bag filled with poop and all.
As we came over the hill, that over looked the dunes, I was impressed at the mountain-like sand dunes plotted under a bright blue sky, with only a few spars visitors to meet eyes with. We find special sand rocks, hike to the top of the dunes, laugh at the snotty face now covered in snot-sand patches.
I stand in silence for a moment while the kids play, to watch the wind move sand in a drifting pattern- something only someone standing still and looking in the right place might find. I’m simply awestruck at how everything out here gets chaotically blown and tossed around, and yet ends up so beautifully placed. It reminded me that my heart is heavy on some things, but just as I will trust the wind to do what it knows is best, I will let the heaviness go here- and trust that something beautiful will come of it…
We reluctantly leave the sand dunes, and are fortunate to have had them all to ourselves to watch the sun throw its last stitch efforts of the day on them. My daughter asks why we can’t just stay the night, and I ask too. But then on the way out, she found a prickly part of a weed stabbing her leg and she yells again, “Ok, I never want to come here again”.
My eyes needed to see this today. I wonder what else could happen if we say ‘yes’ more often?