As I write this we are perched atop a mountain in a friends beautiful straw bale home outside of Dolores, CO very close to where Jacob was born over 12 years ago. Here I find myself flooded with reflections and perspective. The life stages of our children are so different right now. One teetering on the brink of adolescents; one finding himself in the land of imagination and discovery; and the third, a wild toddling ball of wonder and spontaneity. Just today as she nearly pushed her 8 year old brother out of the shopping cart that they were sharing and howling at the top of her lungs because she wanted “privacy” a passerby said “oh, she must be two.” He was on the money!
Of all of the kids, she was the biggest unknown when considering such a big adventure. Traveling for a year with a two year old is not your average undertaking after all. Now, 7 months into our trip she is by far in the lead for giving us many, many moments of both comic relief and tears of near disaster. Here is a glimpse into life on the road with a toddler…
Tools for the task:
Headlamp, tweezers, a multi-tool and of course duck tape.
This is what’s needed to fix the tape deck (yes, you heard that correctly -we play tapes) when blueberries, barrettes and batteries are jammed into it. It is true that the car is an extension of our home and is sometimes the best place for the Little Miss to hang out when we are breaking down or setting up camp. This said, if she is in there quietly focused on something there will surely be a price to pay. Unfortunately now that many, many CD’s have been jammed into our CD player the tape deck must be defended at all costs!
Hand sanitizer, warm soap and water, Scissors.
Quiet and tranquil family moments are only possible when Little I is occupied. This was true when she was quietly playing next to a tree in 2 Medicine Campgrounds of Glacier National Park. I’m not sure why we didn’t answer to the big red flag of Ila shooing everyone away when they wondered what she was up. Lesson learned and managed – as long as you have all of these four tools you will be able to, with great effort, extract VERY thick tree sap out of toddler eyebrows, eyelashes and hair. It’s actually only a 4 part process;
Step one: Apply hand sani. very carefully trying desperately not to get in eyes
Step two: Warm soap and water on the area helps a tiny bit
Step three: There is always the first hair cut…
Step four: Encouraging crying rather than discouraging it over the ensuing days helps dislodge the eyelash sap…
Socks (preferably clean and not from dad); reusable swim diapers and duck tape.
That is what’s needed when backpacking in the Tetons or elsewhere for 4 days and run out of diapers on day 3 because you are traveling “light”. Note to the wise disposable swim diapers DO NOT hold in pee.
Some other Tips and Insights:
Never shop when hungry:
When looking for the toddler at a small food coop in Montana make sure to scan the lower cereal isles for she may be snug in between the granola and the O’s ripping open a box for a snack only bare feet sticking out to give you a hint as shoes and socks where carelessly thrown off on the way….which leads us to our next subject.
On this subject keeping clothes on the toddler at any point during the trip regardless if the weather is below freezing and everyone else in the family is wearing their down jacket and a hat is futile. Ila is a nudist. Regardless of her age and the temperature it is near impossible to keep her clothes on.
Narcissistic Parents at the beach:
When passerby’s look with smiles and giggles at your toddler in the stroller as you are walking down the boardwalk, do not for one moment think they are amused at her cuteness rather question to yourself what could be happening inside the stroller at that very moment…the toddler may be smearing and eating the sun block. (Side note…if you ever see a toddler in a stroller being pushed by her parents; tell the parents that she is indeed EATING the sun block please!)
Managing the inevitable:
When doing laundry at a laundromat in North Dakota or anywhere for that matter always keep an eye on the toddler because if you turn around for a second it is possible that when you turn back you may only see the feet of the kid sticking out of the triple dryer!
Night at the Museum:
Museum exhibits are often fascinating giving one an understanding about the area. This is especially true when reading an exhibit to the boys about the first arrowheads found in the eastern part of AZ near Apache Junction. Not all of us get a sense of place from the written word…sometimes individuals especially the 2 yr. old type develop this understanding by climbing under the fence and into the animal exhibit so that she can snuggle up nice and close to the javelina trying to avoid the prickly pair and the lurking mountain lion.
Although she grew out of her cute pet names for the boys – “Bebop” for Jacob and “Yiyis” for Elias, she grew into pet names for me…You know that you have been spending 24/7 with your daughter and the family when she starts calling you your husband’s pet names. Ila has been calling me “Honey” and “Chell” and sometimes the funny combo of “Honey Mama” for the last month!
Odds and ends:
Wipe on wipe off markers are good for car windows bad for tent flaps.
Jumping Cholla cactuses are true to their name and are especially attracted to cute 2 year old girls.
When staying with cousins, make sure to remove all infant suppositories from the area as they apparently taste good. (Side note have the Poison Control phone number on your cell phone and feel relieved when infant suppositories when eaten will only cause diarrhea).
Under NO circumstances let said toddler play in a pool of water in Yellowstone Park even if she is giggling…there just may be LEECHES! Ahhhhh
String wax that older children may enjoy playing with does not taste good.
And finally just like in the Movie Elf, ABC gum especially in shades of blue, found on the ground in the dessert apparently does taste good.
More to come:
Although you may be wondering at this point if Miss Toddler is intact and well, the answer is a resounding yes! She is currently running circles around the boys, stealing their dinner, pens, pencil sharpeners and hats and squealing with delight. She is growing quickly and hilariously. With that said, I imagine that this is only part one of her adventures!
Side note: All photos on this page were taken by big brother Mr. E during a “photo shoot” at our campsite in southern AZ.