When you’re an adult you plan things: I’ll go for a walk this morning. When you’re a child, you flit from activity to activity like a hummingbird. Flexibility for parenting is essential and as it happens, immensely rewarding. So, want to go on a picnic, dear readers?
It was forecast to be a rainy weekend so I wanted to get out for a walk with Toddler Harbat before the storms rolled in. Getting TH into her clothes was made easier by the promise of a “pick-a-nick”. We packed up some snacks and TH was allowed to select a few key items from her tea party play set including a pot holder, a miniature aluminum frying pan, a plastic teapot, and a wooden spoon. Panda, Piglet, and Pumpkin Bear were chosen as our picnic adventure companions and we set off. By “set off” I mean I put our supplies in the wagon to pull it to the car, and TH climbed in under the impression we were going. Hmm…I was planning on going to the park. Well, we walked down the road to the cul-de-sac, then I got the idea to drive to a bigger park with a nice grassy lawn and places to explore, so we rolled back and got in the car.
So far so good.
We arrived at a small park a few minutes later and TH wanted to bring Panda in the wagon. Fair enough, since Panda does work awfully hard by sleeping in the crib all day and being a regular invitee to all tea parties and pick-a-nicks. We made it about ten feet in the wagon, and TH wanted to get out and walk. So we walked along the edge of a rocky gully, then walked IN the gully, then back to the wagon. Then balanced along a mow curb for an extended balance-beam session. So far we’d gone about twenty feet from the parking lot.
“Don’t you want to go up to that grassy area to have our picnic?”
[long pause] “I’m going THAT way!” [points to the restroom building]
Halfway to the building TH swerved right and headed to a big pile of sand next to a construction pit ringed by orange plastic fencing.
“Sit down Babbo, we’re havin’ our pick-a-nick!”
“Umm…okay, why not.” So we sat down in the construction area next the restrooms, with grassy meadows under palm trees in tantalizingly close reach. TH used her frying pan to dig up some sand, which she offered to a passing dog, then to me.
“Don’t you want to go have our picnic?”
[ignores me and stands up with her frying pan full of sand]
“We’re goin’ that way.”
I pulled Panda in the wagon and TH climbed back down into the rocky gully, spilling her pan of sand.
“Let’s go get more, Babbo.”
Now we’re a half hour into our picnic, but I followed her back to the sand pile for a refill. She carried her frying pan of sand back to the gully, crossed safely, and continued through the park like a contestant in an egg drop race. She made it ten more minutes, crossing bridges, veering without warning to check out flowers, before finally sitting on a small wood bridge and declaring we were ready for our picnic.
The whole morning I’d been thinking of the goal—a picnic on a nice grassy spot—without thinking of all the fun to be had along the way. The picnic was my idea, but all the rest was up to her, including riding the wagon up a steep rocky path, visiting a lookout point I didn’t know existed, picking flowers for Mama, inspecting some pinecones, tipping the wagon over into an acacia bush, smelling some flowers, and eating raisins and chocolate chips out of the bottom of the wagon.
I’m glad she was there to show me how much fun a picnic can really be.