My father ruined many a family outing/vacation/road trip/whatever for me. To this day, I am not a huge fan of traveling due in part, because of my father’s temper. However, in this one area, I find myself sympathizing with him now that I have children and plan events for us to attend as a family.
My father used to get so mad if we weren’t thrilled with waking up before the sun rose just so we could see the sunrise mirrored at Lake Louise, or if we just didn’t care about seeing stuff in general and just wanted to sleep in and read or whatever on vacation. I mean, now that I know how much food, lodging, and travel costs, not to mention taking those precious vacation days off, I get why he was so frustrated and angry. I get it. I really do. But that still doesn’t mean he was right to lose his temper and scream and yell at us and in general, bully us into doing what he wanted.
At any rate, now that I am forcing my own children to do stuff I want to do, I find myself reflecting a lot on his frustration, which manifested as a grown up tantrum. (How’s that for a convoluted sentence?)
Two weekends ago, I took the family to go cherry-picking in Brentwood. As long time readers know, cherry-picking is one of the things I want to do every year with the family. I remember having a fantastic time picking cherries with my parents when I was little and I wanted to pass these memories along to my children. Plus, I love cherries and when they are 50% cheaper at the local farm vs at the store, it is worth the 45 minute drive!
Sadly, this year did not quite go as planned. I was super excited to go and we went the first week the orchards were open. We packed the kids in the minivan, brought along our covered wagon, prepared a picnic, and off we went! Unfortunately, due to the drought, my favorite farm was already closed – and it wasn’t updated on the website! So, we followed a bunch of cars and parked at a different farm.
Right away, we were told that we couldn’t bring food and eat at the orchards anymore. Too many people were leaving all their trash and food at the sites and making it a health hazard. Then, when we got to the trees, they were already all stripped of fruit. Cookie Monster and Gamera were pretty excited to pick cherries, but since there really weren’t any for them to pick, they got bored. Which makes them want snacks. Which they couldn’t eat on site. Hapa Papa carried Glow Worm in the Ergo for the first time, but Glow Worm wanted me so he kept crying.
When I finally found trees that actually had cherries on them, the cherries weren’t even sweet! As I tried to salvage the situation, Gamera peed all over herself because Hapa Papa, not being used to having a baby on him, couldn’t get Gamera to the potty fast enough. At that point, I was really frustrated and mad. I LOVE picking cherries, but nothing was going the way I planned or envisioned. I wanted to throw things and be angry and snipe at Hapa Papa. I had mentally debated staying, but the kids were complaining (and Gamera was WET) and hungry and it was hot and sticky and Hapa Papa’s allergies were destroying him so instead, I huffed off, paid for the cherries, and calmed down enough to just admit defeat and take the kids home.
It was a good decision.
This past Memorial Day Weekend, I forced the kids to go hiking again (this will be our third time in two months!) and though they had a good time, it was initially not looking good. I had originally suggested we go to a trail that was closer to our house – but the trail overlaps with cows and is mostly uphill so the kids don’t like it. Plus, there are a lot of cow pies on the trail. So much so that the kids call this particular trail, “Poo Poo Mountain.” They begged me not to take them to Poo Poo Mountain. (Sorry, every time I think of this name, I burst out laughing.) Fortunately, I understood and didn’t mind the slightly longer drive to Regional Redwood Park where the trail has plenty of shade and is nice and paved and mostly flat.
I’m glad I listened to my kids and changed venues. Although I will make them go to Poo Poo Mountain again! I will prevail!
Then, on Sunday, I gathered up the kids again for our yearly visit to the local Art and Wind Festival. Every year, I take the kids and buy lots of ride tickets. Every year, I have more than half left over. Cookie Monster will only ride the train and this time, after waiting almost an hour for the train, when he finally got on with Hapa Papa, the train broke down and had to be recharged. Again, every one was hot and sweaty and although the kids initially enjoyed the crafts and stickers and balloons, all they wanted was to eat and go home.
I don’t know why I do this to myself every year. And yet, next year, I’ll do it again. Oh, who am I kidding? We’re going to do it again in June when the County Fair comes into town.
What I am most proud of, other than my dogged determination and hopeless optimism in the face of facts, is despite my utter disappointment and frustration at these less than ideal situations, I didn’t take it out on the kids. They had a reasonably good time considering how miserable they were. And for the most part, I hope that these yearly traditions, despite (or perhaps because of) the suffering I’m subjecting my poor children to, they will have fond memories of doing these stupid outings with their crazy mother.