Sunday, August 02, 2015

The great out of doors

At 7 a.m., when there was still breeze in the air and sun was yet to scald, the great out of doors seemed like such a good idea.

"We're going out," I had said to the kids.

"Can we bring our iPods?"


"Will there be free wifi when we get there?"

"No, but there will be free woodlands."
Turns out my kids already know everything there is to know about the great out of doors, and it seems highly overrated.

For one thing, it's hot out there.

Know how I know? My eight-year-old tells me repeatedly of his suffering. He also reminds me that his socks are damp and his shoes are swamped. And that it’s all my fault.

Eight-year-olds are big on assigning blame.

His sister's job, on the other hand, is to remind me -- wordlessly, of course, but not without ample drama -- that good parents would have brought bug spray and water, and quite possibly a Sherpa, on this forced hiking trip into the wilderness.

But there we were anyway, sprinting around a mile-long forest loop, trying to get back to where we started so this particular trail of tears could end.

Sadly, we are not the people we imagine ourselves to be, and this outing proves it. We are neither rugged nor adventurous. And as a family, we don't have an intrepid bone between us. Insipid, I'm afraid, is more defining of our structure.

So we do what it is one does when they come to the sudden realization that you have become a cultivated mushroom.

You try and fake it.

"This will be fun," I command, not even trying to sound convincing. "You have no choice." Case. Closed.

But within the decision that has been made for them, they always have choices. And they know it. The complaint department is always open for business.

"This is the worst day ever," accuses the boy as he trails along behind. And you don't even care if I get lost. You. Don't. Even. Care!"

The girl is no longer speaking, she's just swinging her arms in windmill fashion around her head and sobbing in great big puffs of exasperation.

"Oh great! Ticks and mosquitoes and chiggers, oh my."

"Nature! It's all over me, get it off," is only funny when a cartoon giraffe says it.

"Next time we should bring only the dog," I say to my husband, whose only role in this haphazard outing was to hold on to the end of a leash and keep the only member of our family who was having a good time from chasing squirrels.

"Or at least earplugs," was his tepid response.

He didn't want to be here, either. But he understood why I did.

The house would still be there, a refuge from the stifling heat, its refrigerator filled with frozen treats and in its warren of rooms a safe haven where the tweets of electronic fauna go undisturbed.

It is placid enough, but ultimately unfulfilling.

Summer should be filled with more. It was when I was a kid. Bike rides and fishing trips. Camping under the stars. A whole day to let the sand wedge between your toes and the sun bake your skin.

SPF wasn’t even a thing yet, Neither was Stranger Danger or Lyme disease.

Times change and we much change with them.

Otherwise there will just be out of doors.

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