I just got back from a pre-school field trip to a farm.
Advil? Yes, please.
I had to rearrange my work schedule and call in the sitter for Cam so I could take Everett all by myself, but I'm glad I did. Everett goes to kindergarten next year and ever since Cam came along, he hasn't had much one-on-one time with me or Chuck. And I had my own selfish motivation (i.e., I didn't want to spend two hours carrying a baby around a farm or break my back as he tried to leap from my arms so he could crawl—in cow dung).
Repeat after me: Toddlers are fun.
The kids weren't too juiced about the animals, but they did spend a solid 20 minutes jumping from one dirt mound to another right by the dove's cage.
After the animal tour, we made our way through the woods to an open field so the kids could eat lunch.
Before I go on, I have to tell you that one of my happiest childhood memories is of an open, hilly field (hey, it was the seventies). The field was a quick drive from our house. I remember sitting in the parking lot, hand on the door, waiting for my parents to turn off the car so I could book it.
All I wanted to do was spin around like Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music.
If I drove by the field now, I'd probably be devastated to see that it's actually the size of a postage stamp, but in my memory that field is pure magic. Hazy, dreamy, bliss.
I felt a little of that awe when we stumbled out of the dark, buggy woods today into the vast, open field. It was like something out of a painting: bright yellow dandelions dotted the wide expanse of green. There were gentle hills to roll down. The sun literally beamed off the lush blades of grass. The kids, of course, broke into a run and spread their arms out like birds.
I was about to have a Julie Andrews flashback when it started.
Not so fast!
Watch out for your friend!
Don't run too far!
Don't get too dizzy!
One mother turned to me in disbelief and said, "Can you believe it? She didn't even look at me before she started running, to see if it was okay."
I looked around to see if I'd missed a hidden freeway or poisonous snake pit, but there was nothing in the immediate vicinity that screamed DANGER. To me, anyway.
I can't lie: I hated us parents just then. I hated us for what we've become and for what we're doing to our children. For feeding our children's egos by lavishing them with goodie bags, toys and trophies for everyone when what we really need to do is feed their souls with freedom.
Delicious, worry-less freedom.
Why did we have children? To constantly remind them that their lives are in danger? Why can't they run free in a fucking field? Why can't we stop reminding them of the consequences of every action?
When else in their lives will they be able to experience the true beauty of living in the moment and feeling free? I mean, call me crazy, but isn't that the very experience so many of us are trying to recapture as adults? Isn't that why 20,000,000,000 people do yoga?
I jest. Kind of.
My feelings aren't new (or that unique). I know that. I wrote a very similar post in 2009 about "No running up the slide!" at the playground and again a few weeks ago about my children's—and my own—fear of riding in the way back of the Beast.
But I can't do it anymore.
I need to break up with the voices. Or, at the very least, start traveling with armfuls of poisonous snakes so when everyone starts screaming I'll finally understand why.