People who bring their young children on day trips must be medicated. I see no other possible answer. Because I have done the day trip thing. I have packed the coolers, stocked the diaper bags, loaded up multiple changes of clothes, the sunblock, the towels, the bug spray, the strollers… I’ve packed our van so full of all the possible things we could need that it then becomes impossible to find the children amidst the bags and bags of necessities.
As Moms, we prepare for all things. We have to. Because if we don’t, something terrible will happen… something like…. People will have to go without an afternoon snack. Or people will have to share towels…. Or people will have to carry their own belongings instead of using the stroller as their own personal pack mule. Guys. These are NOT terrible things. But we, the Moms, know that the terrible thing is what occurs if all these small people are not given their way or are slightly inconvenienced.
The whining. The crying. The tantrums. The perpetual question-asking about the item that is not packed. The embarrassing mooching off of strangers to make up for their lack of item that is missing (did you know that toddlers will literally walk up to other people’s coolers and take food for themselves, shoveling it into their little mouths without a second thought? Yeah. That’s awkward.). The sighs of exasperation. The ungrateful attitudes for taking them on a day trip in the first place.
This is why we prepare for all things. This is why people who bring their young children on day trips must be medicated.
There is a local waterpark that our family had yet to try. So, in a moment of courage (and insanity), I scheduled a day trip to the park for our family of 6 and my sister-in-law, along with her three kids. We were outnumbered, yes, but since my niece and nephews are slightly older, we knew we’d have extra hands, thankfully.
We arrived at the park and realize we’d forgotten the worst possible thing. The diaper bag. Hello… what are we, rookies?? Luckily, I had two swim diapers for each of the little boys in my own swim bag. But no wipes, no baby snacks, no regular diapers for the way home. This last one would come back to haunt us in the end.
With children and adults loaded up with the rest of our packed belongings, we made our way through the sea of people to the dreaded changing rooms. Husband and I decided to divide and conquer… which usually looks a lot like us dividing and screaming, without ever actually reaching the conquering stage. He took our oldest and the 2-year-old while I took our daughter and the 1-year-old.
I could write an entire blog on changing rooms. But to sum it up, let’s just say: 1) They’re gross with wet, slippery floors that cause overloaded Mamas to fall and small children to slip and whack their little noggins on a slimy, grimy surface. 2) They smell. Enough said. 3) Children who have been exposed to not so great things in the past tend to stare uncomfortably at strangers’ naked bodies in communal dressing areas, despite zillions of talks about the inappropriateness of the situation. 4) 1-year-olds can and will crawl out of your dressing room while you are half-naked with your pants around your ankles and unable to chase them. 5) You will have exactly 2.5 seconds to wiggle yourself into a too-small one-piece and pack up all your crap before a 7-year-old will begin pestering you about taking too long. 6) Babies hate swim diapers and will attempt to thrown themselves off of changing tables at the site of them. 7) You will hear your 2-year-old screaming bloody murder from the next room. 8) So will everyone else. 9) Your 7-year-old will announce to one and all that the screamer belongs to us. 10) Everyone will stare at you with sour faces.
By the time we emerged from the changing room, I had already regretted our decision to come to the waterpark. I was sweaty and exhausted, and we’d only just begun! Luckily, there was no gate around the pool area, so our impulsive two-year-old had free and clear access to a day full of drowning. Thankfully, the 1-year-old decided to hate water with a very high degree of passion, and he expressed that passion exuberantly when brought anywhere near the water. Good thing it was a waterpark.
The big kids were off and running. Where to? We never really did find out. They popped back to our camp of towels and lawn chairs long enough to binge on snacks before rushing off again.
The 7-year-old, still struggling to get the hang of swimming, was required to stay with a big person for the day. “But Mom,” she complains, “Watch, I can swim underwater!”
“No, baby, that’s called sinking. Stay where you can touch and keep with us or your big cousin.”
As a parent, you know that day outings aren’t about you. They’re obviously about the kids. That’s why you hold your pee in the entire day, so you don’t have to get everyone out of the pool and stand outside the restrooms without wandering off. And that’s why you forgo all the yummy snacks you packed, just in case one of the little ones would happen to get hungry later on. It’s why you hold your head high when the baby knocks your left boob out of its swim-suited holster as he tantrums over his missed nap and you try to one-handedly fix your suit while not dropping him on his head. Its why you wait in line with a swarm of 8-year-olds to go down the world’s slowest water slide, because your daughter is terrified of you not being at the bottom to catch her when her time arrives. And it’s why you smile as your 2-year-old pees a river in the sand pit and you have no other choice but to kick a neighboring sand castle over it and hurry him from the play area.
How do other mothers look so relaxed, so calm on these outings? Do they not have worries? Are they not fearful of kidnappers, sun poisoning, dehydration, tantrums, slip and fall accidents? Have they NOT seen the dry-drowning article on Facebook??? I know I’m a worry-wart… it just took so long to get these kids in the first place. I can’t imagine having to start all over. Because in the words of one of society’s greatest poets, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
But at the end of the day, no one ingested a horrible amount of water and showed signs of dry-drowning. (All those nightmares… all that panic!) Everyone was appropriately sunscreened with only a few random body parts that were missed, evident by odd streaking patterns. All were happy, all were fed, and all were sufficiently worn out. But none of them more than me. For I had been holding my breath against all that could have gone wrong all day. And some of them did, but a lot of them didn’t. Sure, the toddler walked into the house and urinated all over the floor, which then spread to the baby toys and books…. But it’s not his fault we left the diaper bag at home!
So, when my sister-in-law suggested that we do another date to the waterpark before the kids go back to school, I offered up an enthusiastic Yes! After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?