Jeremy and I took the boys on their first road trip when they were 10 weeks old. The prospect of a 12 hour car trip down to North Carolina seemed daunting to us for sure. However, the idea of spending our summer sitting in the house changing diapers and wiping up baby puke got us in the car and on the road pretty quickly.
We realized early into this parenting journey that babies are babies and toddlers are toddlers no matter where you take them. Whether we are hiking in the mountains or lounging on a beach, an outbreak of whining or fighting is as likely as an afternoon thunderstorm in July.
We choose to place these inevitable hazards of childhood against spectacular backdrops and invigorating experiences. Some people stay home with their kids because the idea of traveling with them is overwhelming. Jeremy and I travel with our kids because the idea of staying at home with them is mind numbing. Our boys have big personalities and big energy more suited to the great outdoors than our small backyard.
This has not always been easy. We viewed the last three years as a sort of early immersion bootcamp designed to teach our boys how to walk for miles, sleep in the woods, and have endless fun with only a stick and huge pile of dirt at your fingertips.
The hard work is definitely starting to pay off. This year the boys were a bit older, a bit more independent, and a hell of a lot easier to manage. We found ourselves relaxing beside pools and lakes instead of hovering at the edge, waiting for a toddler to face plant into the water.
The swimming hole was low on account of our dry summer, but we still had a lovely picnic and swim down at the bottom. See adults relaxing? The boys are not strapped down somewhere…just splashing happily and responsibly along the edge.
On the hike down we were well-behaved and minded all of the ‘no swimming’ signs, knowing that a great swim awaited us at the bottom. We lost all self-restraint on the way back up though and couldn’t help a little off-the-beaten-path exploring.
Our real vigilante moment came when we stumbled upon two college-aged girls cliff diving into a deep pool of crystal clear water. They were screaming and laughing and we couldn’t help but stop and watch the spectacle. It took me a few minutes to realize that just a few years ago would have found me doing the same exact thing. I turned to my husband to inform him that I was definitely going to get in on the action. Me too, was his immediate reply.
The boys patiently watched as we dove again and again, waving and laughing every time we popped back up to the surface of the water.
It was fun. Not ‘family fun’. Not ‘fun for the kids’. Just plain fun, as in ‘this is what life should be about for big and little people alike.’
We just can’t wait for the little campers to jump off the cliffs with us. Maybe next summer.