Around Atlanta: Finding our out – Part 2

As promised, the continuation of our Camp Granola adventures.

The Plan…

Last week instead of a pure hiking/nature exploration, I thought the boys could use more general outdoor frolicking including some biking practice and a picnic. So I made the executive decision to venture to a newish local park we’ve been meaning to visit.

Fred Zooming About
Fred Zooming About

For most parents, getting out of the house is no small task. It’s no different at Camp Granola. When the kidlets are not in gung-ho-helper mode, it’s pretty much an exercise in frustration…even if it’s a place they want to go. Herding cats, my friends, it’s herding cats.

My intent was to get out earlier in the day rather than later to avoid the sweltering hours of Georgia summer. But knowing myself as well as I do, I knew housework would get neglected if I didn’t handle it first. By the time we get home from a day outside, I’m in relax mode, not scrub-the-toilet mode. So I got to it right away in order to get our fun on and not melt. Trying to balance work and play is quite the juggling act, is it not?

The Actual…

In between cleaning and herding the cats to get packed up, it took the whole morning for us to make our way to the park. Although we did technically get there before lunchtime, I was concerned we’d be miserably hot by that time of day. Surprisingly, the park proved to be nothing short of wonderful with the help of a steady breeze wafting over the lake and the shade of the trees providing respite from the sun.

Soggy George
Soggy George

My brilliant plan was to have Fred and George work up an appetite first. Fred was all over it and happily got his pedaling on. George, as you may have noticed, is a sensitive creature and wanted nothing to do with it. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. His overall attitude had improved since the last outing thanks to his BFF Claritin, but that only gets us so far and it doesn’t remedy lack of confidence or fear of falling. Even though he was doing very well at riding a few months ago, he’s convinced he’s incapable now.

After struggling just to get out the door, my patience was worn perilously thin. I think you probably figured out by now that the bike riding did not go well. There was indeed some gnashing of teeth on both of our parts until I stepped back and acknowledged that it was too much for him on that particular day. Biking is supposed to be fun right? Plus, I don’t want him to send me his therapy bills later in life.

With that in mind, we took a break from biking to refuel. We at Camp Granola, of course, do waste-free picnics. Did you expect anything else? Waste-free or not, the fact remains that I forgot to pack a fork…. plastic, metal or otherwise. And in spite of my eating-salad-with-your-fingers comic relief, George grumped his way through lunch. Big surprise, I know.

Things took a turn for the better when a katydid dropped out of the tree limb overhead and practically into my salad. Fred and I were in hysterics and after his initial shock, we saw the beginnings of a smile from George. The katydid turned out to be Dobby’s lunch. Unbeknownst to me, The Dobster stalked the ‘Did as it hopped off the table and the beagle had himself a little snack. Sorry nature. My bad.

The shift…

But this is where we get to move on to the good news. And the good news is that I managed to coax George into the little creek running through the picnic area. I got him to shuck his sandals and cool his toes off in between protests of just wanting to go home. And wouldn’t you know it, the creek washed away his grumpies. Better than Calgon I say. Ah, great moments in parenting…

The "Creek"
The "Creek" - I use the term loosely since it's hardly natural but it sure was lots of fun.

…can come to a screeching halt when your little grump falls on his rear right in the creek. I’m sure I let out an audible groan as I braced for the rage of indignation. But then George surprised me. He didn’t lose his grip. Instead he gave me that pensive look of a child trying to figure out if he’s going to be in trouble or not. He wasn’t at all put out by his soggy britches which would normally be the case. He was, in fact, ready for me to get into a snit about his poor choice of clothing that I had questioned before we left. (I mean corduroys! In the middle of summer, going to the park. Come on! Really?) But I’d let him make his decision and he actually dealt with it. I let him off the hook with a “Dude, it’s your problem!” and he went about splashing merrily.

Fred joined in the fun too, cavorting up and down the creek, singing his Fred ditties he’s known to compose on the fly. By that time, kids were coming out of the woodwork so there was much frolicking to be had by all, including Dobby who wanted in on the action too. He got his sniff on with lots of new people. Some very nice twenty-something punkers even held on to Dobby for me while I picked George up from yet another plunge into the creek.

By the end, a great time was had by all. I didn’t even get my mother-of-a-spectrum-child hackles raised when a little girl asked me why Fred was singing and proclaimed it weird. I told her it was fun. I asked her if she’d ever made up a song and she said she indeed had. I told her he was just doing it in a creek and asked her how was that any different than doing it at home. She agreed there wasn’t much difference ran off on her merry way. Hurray for breaking down barriers, Camp Granola style.

The Take-away…

So the big question that is probably looming for my (handful) of readers is why we so adamantly pursue the outdoors when getting out the door seems so hard lately, I’ve got so much to do at home, and Mr. Sensitive doesn’t seem to be coping?

There’s collection of reasons really but what it boils down to is that we’re better outside. In general, tension and worries drift away when we’re exploring. The kids know they have my undivided, undistracted attention. I’ve always known it but reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder has helped me articulate the notion a little bit better.

Because things are simpler outside, we’re not overwhelmed and we can relax. We’re trying to stretch that notion to home life as well but there’s only so far you can truly take that, especially where we’ve found ourselves in suburbia.

The thing to remember is that going out didn’t cause our troubles. We would be struggling with grumpies at home too and it would have lasted longer and been much more difficult to remedy. So yeah, for all the struggles to make it happen I just think of my ogre friend Shrek… “Better out than in” isn’t just for bodily functions.

And now for your moment of green…

Sunny Red Maple
Red hot in Georgia.