Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Roughing It

On Sunday afternoon, Ruanita and I decided to take the kids hiking. This coming Saturday, my Earth Scouts troop is meeting at the Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park to do some hiking/nature activities (of which I have YET to plan). I thought it would be a good idea to check the place out beforehand since I had never been there before. You know...get the lay of the land. I thought the kids would enjoy a nature hike. Unfortunately, I apparently do not know my kids as well as I thought I did.

I love my children. And I love my partner. However, they are not the most nature-oriented people in the world. Ruanita and Lucas, in all fairness, have reason to be a bit weary of nature. They are two of the fairest people I have ever met. They are translucently white and, therefore, particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun. In addition, they both get eaten alive by bugs and swell up like balloons. They will get a dozen mosquito bites in a 10-minute trip outside...whereas Sophie, Nicky, and I are left untouched. Note the picture below. This grotesqueness was inflicted upon poor Lucas by a mere mosquito. He missed two days of school, had to go to the doctor, and spent a full week looking like the Elephant Man. I think his doctor was even hinting that I should consider donating his body to science because she repeating several times (with awe in her voice) that she had never seen such a "dramatic" reaction to a mosquito bite.


Poison ivy is another concern. Ruanita has had to go to the hospital after contracting a bad case of poison ivy. Lucas has never caught it (since he purposely avoids any and all wooded areas), but knowing him, I would not be surprised if he is capable of contracting it by simply looking at the plant. So...Ruanita and Lucas DO have just cause to be a bit hesitant about hanging out in the natural world. As you probably suspect by now, hiking with my family was quite an adventure.

Within minutes of starting our hike...and probably not much more than six feet into it...Sophie began complaining that her legs were "tired." Lucas nearly ran off the end of a floating dock trying to avoid a dragonfly. Ruanita kept repeating the mantra "three leaves...let it be" over and over and over again. Nicholas, walking WAY behind the pack as usual, carried a map the entire way and repeatedly informed me where we were located on the map. I don't believe he took his eyes off of the map even once to catch a glimpse of the nature around him. Lucas informed us that he saw a cobra in the grass. Sophie had to sit and "rest" on every single bench or stump we passed. Nicholas asked me repeatedly if he could play the Wii when we got done with all of this nature business. Lucas threw a bit of a conniption fit when he had to walk through a small swarm of gnats flying around. He flailed around like a person having a epileptic seizure. Sophie caught wind of the fact that we were planning on getting an ice cream after our hike. Upon hearing this, she immediately began complaining incessantly that she was "starving", though she had just eaten lunch before we left the house. Nicholas told me at least three times that he had to poop...as we were walking in the woods without a bathroom in sight. When we eventually emerged from the woods, he said he no longer had to poop. Where did it go? No clue.

We decided rather quickly into our hiking adventure that we could not handle completing the 1.5 mile hike around the lake and turned back barely a fourth of the way into it. We couldn't take it a minute longer with our nature-loving brood. We failed at our hiking attempt. I just need to face facts. My partner and kids are not outdoors enthusiasts. Nor may they ever be. I don't see any camping trips in our near future. As a matter of fact, when I mentioned camping to Ruanita this past weekend, her eyes almost bulged out of her head. Her idea of "roughing it" is a hotel without Egyptian cotton sheets. She may begrudgingly settle for less than 400-thread-count sheets, but sleep in a sleeping bag? On the ground? Without indoor plumbing? That's downright blasphemous as far as she is concerned! And I am afraid my children have inherited her affection for indoor living...either through genetics or osmosis. I will definitely be on my own if I ever get the urge to "rough it." Oh well...I guess there are a lot worse things in life than Egyptian cotton.


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