Hiking a la Eve

Posted by The Wizzle | Posted on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 7:54 PM

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A couple of months back, Eve's preschool teacher scheduled her class for a "hike" (by which I mean "entirely flat nature walk") through Usery Pass Park, to occur yesterday. Parents were encouraged to attend. Younger siblings not permitted.

Ever since I got the permission slip, I have been pretending it wasn't happening. We've taken Eve hiking, a number of times. She has walked. She has been carried. It has been hot, cold, and just right, weather-wise. The trails have been quiet and crowded. She has been at age 2, 3, and 4. She has been alone and with the entire family.



(Notice who is not in this picture.)

We have been under every possible circumstance, but no matter what changes, there is always one constant: Eve is miserable.

And when Eve is miserable, the whole of Phoenix metro knows about it, and is drawn into her vortex. It is a black hole from which, as Devlin would be quick to point out, not even light can escape. "Suffer in silence" is not a philosophy to which she subscribes. And there is much for her to hate about hiking: the attendant wardrobe, the requirement to stay with one's party, the sun in one's eyes, the fact that it lasts longer than 5 minutes and there is no readily available toilet facility, the lack of food vendors, the many sharp, poky, hot, dusty, fanged, rattling, jumping, living and non-living entities that one might encounter out of doors.

I can see her point.

But that doesn't mean I want to go hiking with her.

Luckily for me, Iris has dance class at the very same time that Eve's class was scheduled to hike. Long story short, there was no way for either parent to accompany Eve on the hike and also get Iris to her class, which she literally lives for. Since my attendance on the hike was neither compulsory nor attractive, I opted to allow Eve to go under the watchful eye of her teachers and many adult chaperones, while I watched Iris turn somersaults and try to point her fat toes. I wouldn't go on a hike with Eve if you paid me, and since I am *paying for her* to have this...opportunity, I took the coward's way out.

Feeling relieved to allow someone else to shoulder the burden of herding Eve through the treacherous outing and yet guilty that I was basically lobbing a grenade into the room and running out the side door, I did my utmost to head off the triggers that I knew were likely to arise. In the week of the hike, I went over the written protocol the teachers had sent home with her many, many, MANY times in preparation to leave her in the hands of her guardians (anyone who has ever had charge of her for even two minutes knows that an official "transfer of power" is required, signed in triplicate, to have any hope of her cooperation while under the care of another adult). All the kids were asked to:

- wear long pants, closed-toe shoes, a shirt, a sweater *and* a jacket (my eyes watered from bitter laughter when I read this)
- bring water in such a way as to leave both hands free (backpack, shoulder strap, etc)
- wear sunscreen or a hat if desired (I assure you, this was not desired)
- stay with one's chaperone
- not touch cacti
- not stick one's hand into holes in the ground
- not approach or heckle critters

Surprisingly, we succeeded on nearly all fronts. When confronted with the specter of owies upon her knees and elbows, she conceded to jeans (the pair she likes, with heart pockets on the bum), a long-sleeved shirt, and her favorite jean jacket with soft furry lining at the cuffs and collar. She took our smallest Camelbak hydration backpack, tightened as far as it would go, and I had her practice to make sure she could get water out of the nozzle (even though she's used it a hundred times whenever we go hiking as a family, see paragraph 4). I styled her hair in a bun so that it would neither be caught in the straps of the backpack and pulled by the roots (oh, the HORROR!) nor drawn into her mouth whilst drinking.

She saw the wisdom in closed-toe shoes, but would not consent to boots, tights, or socks. She chose a pair of well-favored scuffed black mary janes. Much time was spent in assessment of the pitfalls of toe seams/constriction of one's feet vs. rocks in one's shoes, and she was firm that she would stop whenever necessary and have the teacher help her empty her shoes. The mathematics of 20 children and the cumulative amount of minutes spent emptying shoes if everyone in the class subscribed to the Eve Method were discussed, but in the end I decided that it was likely to be less hassle for her teacher to deal with periodic shoe emptying than continuous hateful seam presence. No boots, no socks. Fine.

She has already had one memorable experience involving her hand and a cactus, so only a brief review was required on that point. She is also not remotely fond of critters/varmints/things that go bump in the night, so a mere few recitations of "look with our eyes, not with our hands" were deemed sufficient on that score. For a 60-minute outing, the issue of a sunhat did not pass a preliminary mental cost-benefit analysis and was not even brought to the negotiating table.

(If you've gotten to this point and are wondering: yes, this much preparation is typical for an outing of this caliber, with this child. It might seem like overkill, but I can confidently assure you, from vast personal experience, that it is the best course of action.)

So, having done all the hard work ahead of time, on Thursday morning we merely suited her up, handed the girl and her car seat to her assigned driver, and waved goodbye.

* * * * *

At pickup time, I was there waiting for her. She ran to me, carrying her jacket (as I had known she would be), with a ridiculous grin on her face. Her teachers appeared normal and unharmed, showing no signs of a struggle or mental anguish of any kind. I thanked them profusely for the opportunity, and asked them how she did.

"Oh, she was just fine! She did get a few rocks in her shoes, but we just stopped and emptied them." (Yes, yes, all part of her diabolical plan.) "She also had quite a bit of trouble getting the water out of her backpack" (whaaaaaaaaaa????? we went over this, girl!) "and she seemed reluctant to keep her coat on" (you have NO idea, lady) "but overall it was pretty uneventful".

She paused, thinking for a moment. "She's quite her own little person, isn't she?"

Yes, Mrs. F. Yes, she certainly is.

Comments (10)

I'm crying with laughter! Are you talking about McKenna? I think you have mistaken for my daughter. I know the details so well...so well...
(and, oh, when I say "details" I mean "details." ;) )
I'm just hoping these, shall we say, "dominate traits" will work in my favor some day. ;)

:) This reminds me a bit of what the Duggar parents (19 kids and counting) said once about one of their daughters. "She's taught us a lot about parenting."

Those words are much kinder than what my Mom would've said about me. :)

Yes, "taught me a lot about parenting" is spot on. I have become a much more versatile and wily mother than I ever would have been without her! I was just having this very conversation with a friend today at lunch, how funny.

Oh boy! You are in for such a treat when she's a teenager if she's already this high maintenance!! I can completely relate to her feelings about hiking though. It has never been a favorite of mine!!

Great story. Thanks for sharing!

As the mother of a similarly opinionated girl, I try to take comfort in the fact that I'd rather have her be completely opinionated and stubborn than be some kind of weak-willed follower who could be convinced of anything by unscrupulous people.

Just look at the genetics! Do you really think you could give birth to anything that didn't do things their own way? You're the best and your kids are too (after my own of course!)

Ooh, I love what Heather says here.

This is so well-written. Isn't it funny that this sort-of makes me love this girl? I'm SURE I'd be singing a different tune if I dealt with it on a daily basis, but I love that she likes her jeans with hearts on the bottom, and doesn't like jumpy critters, or get the overall appeal of hiking. She is her own little person, and I happen to really like it. I always think about that time she kept making her shoe fall off and finally we found out it was because she wanted to be Cinderella? To me her world often sounds a lot more interesting than one full of bugs and other such unpleasantries. I'm glad she shares so much of it with us.

Glad you posted "the story." Love her.

hilarious!!!!!

I am totally with Eve on this one. Hiking sucks! When I was in girls camp I had one friend that felt the same way as me and we whined and complained the whole time! It was great to a have whining buddy. Hopefully she can learn to appreciate the physical accomplishment and enjoy nature. As for me, I'm too busy looking at my feet making sure that I won't trip to notice the majesty of nature.