Children are Barbarians

If you’re not a ┬áparent, you can skip this one. You probably won’t get it and you’ll likely sneer at me through your computer. After today, I don’t need any more sneers, so feel free to move along. If you’re a parent, the kind of person that gave birth or participated in the birth giving process, please stick around. Below you will find self-deprecating admissions that will probably amuse you just a very little.

Fisher Towers, Onion Creek on the right

Yesterday, I must have been high on fumes from cleaners or something, because I loaded up my truck, my son, and my dog and headed west toward Utah. My intent was to drive to the land of the Utards and play in their warm, dry sand and beneath their sheer cliffs. Aral sat in the back seemingly stoked and ready to play too. It was awesome!

As I drove along I-70 I kept imagining us further afield. Maybe after Fisher Towers we’d get a back country pass for Canyon Lands, jeep the White Rim. And man, I sure could use a soak. I could just tootle up to Idaho and soak my tootsies in a hot springs or two. Who knows after that, the Earth is big and round and just waiting.

We arrived, and I poked around for a bit before deciding I wanted to take a run up Onion Creek. Aral’s mood had soured in the nearly two hours of driving from Grand Junction and my stomach seemed to be keeping up with his mood (never eat at that Denny’s again). But eventually I got him into the Chariot and we took off, Pepper trotting along behind.

“Daddy, move those rocks. They don’t belong there.”

The run went okay, but Aral turned into a little dictator telling me how he wanted to cross each and every stream bed crossing. There were many, many crossings. By the time I climbed up the canyon, well above the creek bed, I had had enough. My stomach was turning over, I was sweating like a pig in training, and Aral wouldn’t shut up about all the things I was doing wrong. “Not so close to that side of the road Daddy!” and “I don’t like turns Daddy.” He needed a nap, I gritted my teeth and carried on.

Near the end of the run, mere paces from the truck, he zonked. I parked him in the shade and stretched for a good long while thanking my lucky stars he had gone to sleep.

The rest of the afternoon went well enough. Eventually, after much playing with trucks in the dirt, we set out and found a camp site. Again nearing his tiredness threshold he turned into a bit of a turd. I cooked dinner and we ate, then we took a walk around the campground and eventually he wanted to climb up into the roof top tent. I cleaned him up and let him climb the ladder, making sure he knew that he wasn’t coming down until the following morning. Then, maybe five minuets later while I finished cleaning up dishes from dinner, the whining started up in ernest. Teeth gritted, I finished the work at hand and then climbed up to calm my toddler supreme.

Bed time cometh

Two chapters of The Hobbit later he passed out. Full crash. I spent some time making sure everything was tidy and tried to take some night pictures and then joined him. The cleaner fumes completely spent, and zero words, I was wondering if I shouldn’t pack up and high tail it back to the apartment, but sleep seemed the better option.

This morning, we woke and Aral was in an excellent mood. I was in need of bandwidth so we drove down river to Moab and found a Cafe with free wifi. Soon enough we had breakfast, coffee, and network. I spent all my time sorting out little problems with moving and administrative issues surrounding writing. Aral made several trips to the potty. And we even got a FaceTime call in with Mommy. The morning was awesome. And again, the bottle of ammonia must have had the cap off, because I was seriously considering that backcountry pass.

The ranger station wasn’t open until 12:30 and Aral was already showing signs of tiredness. Eventually they let us in. I talked to the ranger behind the counter, she was making arrangements for our pass and had even commented that Aral was such a cute kid, when I turned around and found, much to my horror and shame, that my child was licking the glass-pane door of the office building. He left a slug-ish trail of goldfish enriched saliva all over the door from about hip height to the kick board.

I was mortified, embraced, and frantically trying to rub it off with the sleeve of my running sweater when the ranger I needed to talk to in order to get the permit came out from the back.

Let’s just say things went down hill from there. Not with the Parks Rangers, they were very understanding and even accommodating, but it was clear to me, that my excursions are necessarily going to be limited for a while. My son is a barbarian. Aral of the hill people, he roams the world campaigning for nap time and a predictable schedule. Despite all the other things I can offer him by making forays into the wide world, he very much *needs* consistency in his life. Without it he charges right across any boundary in sight.

Parenting is a learning process. I should know this stuff, he’s my second. Seriously, they’re different kids. Justin was never like this. Sure he needed a schedule, but it had a certain amount of flexibility. Or maybe I was just oblivious and happily pranced by his blunders holding onto my ignorance for deer life? Man I can’t even recall any more.

We’re back above GJ again, showered and clean. I still feel the shame. My son licked the door of the ranger station, but as soon as I can get him to bed I’m going to start drinking. Making civilization is a painful, painful process.

Free Market Parenting

Ask just about any parent and you will quickly learn that there is a fair amount of give and take, an exchange if you will, in the small acts of parenting. There is an economy to it. Not the kind where we agree on a price for said service, but an on going negotiation nonetheless.

With a toddler I find my self constantly coming to the table. “If you give me a potty on the toilet I’ll let you watch an episode of Lunar Jim on my iPad.” Or another favorite “Aral, can you use your words (so I have some clue what it is you want)?” The point is that there is an inherent market which arose on its own between parent and child.

The problem is that this market lacks any real regulation. Sure, I maintain a modicum of self-control and I can impose regulatory consequences when exchanges are not honored. But a three year old is a lot like West Virginia’s Freedom Industries, if you give them an inch they’ll eat up any slack in the line. And when that’s gone they’ll simply declare bankruptcy leaving you standing knee deep in the horrible mess.

Things in my household have been very chaotic lately. WE’RE MOVING so the little guy has been acting up a bit. But it’s all good, hang in there, clean up the messes.