Miss Communication / by Susie Lubell

We went camping over the holiday weekend to Olema Ranch up in Point Reyes National Seashore. Usually we're too disorganized to reserve a spot six months in advance which is the earliest you can ever reserve and the only time anything's available six months from then. Especially for a three-day weekend. But friends of ours did the reserving and then asked us to join, then canceled when their baby girl came six weeks early.

It took us a good six hours to pack up the car and leave the house, at the tail end of which I looked at my husband and we just giggled. I mean, is it really worth it? Is camping with babies that much fun? I mean, not really. By the time we get everything in the car for the 48+ hours we'll be gone, we may as well go to Mexico for a week and stay in a resort. It's just so much stuff. And diapers. And toys. And enough Elmo underwear for three months. And a ton of food. And a hundred sleeping bags, two tents, two chairs, a stove, a folding table, 46 stuff sacks, and a flash light. It's dizzying.

But we do it because in the end it is enjoyable and the kids love it and it's fun for us to watch them roll around in dirt and not care. My daughter started walking on this trip which was an extra treat. But by walking I mean five consecutive steps - we still have to schlep her around in the backpack to cover any ground. Which we did, on Sunday.

Friends met us in Point Reyes Station which is about the coolest little town I've ever had coffee in. From there we drove to the trail head. The hike itself is fodder for another post. We ended up on a quiet beach in Tomales Bay and had a picnic. My son and his pal took off their pants (he had peed in his and she just wanted to be naked) and ran around and we ate and relaxed and fed the baby who continues to astound even the casual observer with her special aptitude for inhaling food.

We were getting ready to leave and the baby was holding two cheese sticks in her hand and whining. My husband said, "let's just put her in the pack and get going. She'll settle down." So we put her in the pack. She starts crying and waving the cheese sticks with greater gusto. "Maybe she wants an animal cracker." I give her an animal cracker. She throws it at me. Now she's hysterical and throws one of the cheese sticks at my head and gives me the hairy eyeball. It dawns on me that she might actually want the cheese stick. So I take off the wrapper and she gobbles the whole thing and smiles and sucks her thumb.

My husband and I were laughing so hard. She must think we are a pair of idiots. I mean she could not have been clearer in her communication. Here is a replay from her perspective.

Her: Can you open these cheese sticks?
Dad: She's tired.
Her: No, aba, I want the cheese. That's why I'm waving them at you. I can't open them.
Dad: I'll just put her in the backpack and she'll stop whining.
Her: Sure. AFTER you open my cheese stick pops. What is wrong with you?
Me: Maybe she wants an animal cracker.
Her: What in god's name would make you think that me waving my cheese sticks around means I want a friggin' animal cracker? Do you see the cheese sticks? Do you see me waving the cheese sticks? I'm pretty sure you see me throwing a cheese stick at your head ma! What is wrong with you people?!
Me: What is your deal freaky?!
Her: My deal? Maybe you should take a class in non-verbal communication and then it might occur to you that I WANT THIS CHEESE STICK AND IF I HAVE TO EAT THROUGH THE PLASTIC TO GET IT, I WILL!

Poor thing. Half the time I'm just projecting onto her what I want. Like a nap. And an animal cracker. But she clearly has a mind of her own.