We all know that kids have the wonderful knack for "telling it like it is". Right out of their sweet little mouths come all the thoughts that we adults keep tucked away in our minds. We have a filter to help us to choose what is appropriate/helpful/respectful/suitable to say. The kids, on the other hand, are missing that all important "colander" for their thoughts ... and so, out tumble wonderful things like:
"Mommy? Why is that lady dressed like that? Her dress is weird."
"Eww ... that guy smelled. Yuck."
"Mom, that lady sings really bad. It's like a scratching sound."
"When I shook his hand, it was sweaty. Gross."
(Just a reminder that all these observations have been made in the presence of the person being described. Awesome.)
"Mommy ... I think he was a clown. Yeah ... 'cause he had big ugly shoes."
"She wasn't very nice. I think she needs a nap."
"I think that man was really old. Like 199 years old. I think he's gonna die."
Those are the wonderful moments when you smile, turn your cart around and head for the nearest exit.
But, there are other times when your kids speak the truth and it sheds a whole new light on a situation ... in a good way. And it either makes you smile, makes you adjust, or makes your day. I had a little something like that happen recently ...
The kids were out of school and we had an entire day ahead of us. We also had an extra buddy along ... just to keep things lively. After about 30 minutes of no one knowing "what they wanted to do today", I decided that there was no way that I was going to just hang out at home with the five kids and listen to them be bored. I gave the kids a "five-minute-warning" and started loading up the car. We were going geocaching! (For those of you not familiar with this activity, it's kind of like a treasure hunt. We use GPS coordinates to find containers through out the city ... for more details, click the link.)
I had six caches loaded up on our GPS. They were all in the same general area of town and I figured that we probably wouldn't get to them all ... but at least we wouldn't be bored.
We set out with our map and coordinates and arrived at the first location. After several minutes of poking around, we decided that the plastic lid we saw in the bottom of the ditch probably belonged to the cache. Bummer. 0-1.
We checked the coordinates for the next nearest cache and set off. This was a successful find! Boo-yeah! 1-2. The kids were psyched up a bit and willing to move on to the third cache. As long as we could have a quick snack and run around the playground a bit. :)
The third cache was also successful. Tricky, but we found it. 2-3. Not bad at all. Of course, I should mention that Ashley and Lydia chose to stay in the car for this one. They had lost some of their motivation, but the big kids were on a roll and wanted to keep going.
We headed to another neighborhood and after trumping around in the mud, weeds, shrubbery and "pokey bushes" we found the coffee can wedged under a branch. Awesome. 3-4. Unfortunately, there had been some extra bickering and whining on this hunt. Lydia resisted walking, Ashley complained about the scratchy grass and the big kids grumbled about who should be holding the GPS. So it was a victory with a bit of a shadow cast over it.
After a brief pow-wow, it was decided that we would do one more cache. Then we would head home for lunch. Following this brief attitude adjustment, we set off for the last one.
Which we found about 3.6 seconds after getting out of the car. You could almost see it from the curb ... hiding there under the rock. 4-5. But a bit of a lousy way to end our day. We wanted a little more of a challenge than that. Norah even went so far as to insult the cache ... something about, "not even being worth it." Well ... we can't have that be our last cache! We need one more! We need to end the morning on a high-note!
I checked the GPS and found the last one I had logged that morning. We headed over to a dirt lot behind a hotel just off the interstate. The morale among the cachers was a bit low due to hunger, fatigue and general grumpiness. Before unloading from the van, I double-checked that we wanted to look for this one.
"Yes ... just one more."
"Yeah ... I guess so."
(Note the lack of enthusiasm ... that should have been a clue for me.)
Okey-doke. We stepped out into the parking lot and followed the beeping GPS toward the dirt lot. There was an electrical pole. There was a pile of landscaping rocks. There were random blocks of cement dumped here and there. And there was a lot of trash. Not the loveliest place to hang-out.
I started walking back and forth between the electrical pole, the van and the rocks; scanning the ground and looking for anything that might be a "nano cache". (Translated: tiny, itty-bitty, un-findable)
I heard a few complaints about "not being able to find anything" and being "too tired to walk". I assured the kids that I just wanted to look a few more minutes. I re-traced my steps.
Ashely announced that she was going to wait in the car. Norah plopped down on the curb and propped her head on her knees with a "humph". Lydia pummeled my leg and shouted, "Peas! Peas!". The boys were jumping from concrete pile to concrete pile.
"Just a few more minutes ... it's gotta be here somewhere." I don't want to just quit yet. I picked up Lydia and walked back towards the rocks.
Norah mumbled something about, "it's too hot ... I don't feel good," and joined Ashley in the van. Lydia started fussing in my ear. I checked the GPS again.
Lydia finally had enough and started yelling, "Dum! Dum! Ah duummmm!" That's when I stopped.
Ashley and Norah were hollering from the van that they were, "Thhhiiiiirstyyyy!" Aaron and his buddy had found a stick and were poking at a rotten, swollen container of mandarin oranges.
Lydia was right. It was dumb. And we were done. Mommy had tried to push the kids too far ... and this is what our troop had turned into: A worn-out, worn-thin, worn-ragged band of kids that were "ah dum".
Thanks, Lydia ... Mommy needed to hear the truth.
We went home, had lunch, took naps.
And now we look back on that day as the time we found "all those caches!" We were 4-6, after all. :)