Dramedy of Errors / by Susie Lubell

Last weekend during our camping trip to Point Reyes, friends of ours met us for a day hike near Tomales Bay. We hike with them a lot and their daughter is a week older than our son. The marriage has already been arranged and we have plenty of naked bathtub photos for the slide show during the reception.

It was nearing lunch time and we had decided on a one mile hike which would land us at the beach for a picnic. One mile is perfect for my son. At around two miles he starts to whine that,"this is too long for me..."

We start walking and about ten minutes into our journey, which I believe to be about the half way point, my son bends over to look at a giant caterpillar that is crossing the path. And as he's squatting there admiring the caterpillar, he suddenly looks up and says, "mommy, I'm making pee pee." But instead of jumping up to pull his pants down, I notice the now darkened spot on his jeans near his crotch slowly moving down his leg as he unloads a half gallon of urine all the while looking right at me.

Are you kidding me?
Him: I need to change my pants.
Me: I don't have any other pants with me.
Him: I want to go back to the car and change!
Me: We're already half way to the picnic. I don't want to walk all the way back to the car.

At this point he's starting to cry and I have to make a decision. Do we go back and essentially double our trip which will likely end in a tantrum? Or do I make him hike the next 15+ minutes in his wet pants which will likely turn into a tantrum? My friend offered her daughter's spare pants but my son would have nothing of that. He wanted his own clothes. And honestly, I usually have spares for him because even though he's been potty trained for a year, he still has accidents. But wouldn't you know the one friggin day I leave his spares in the car. And with a new crop of poison oak up to his head, there's no way he's hiking naked.

I decide we're moving forward. At first I try to keep my cool and convince him to wear his friend's pants. They were just a brown pair of pants from Target. He may actually have the same pair of pants. But he refused. And then sat down in the dirt sobbing. So I say I'm leaving and he can walk with Aba. More sobbing. I tell him I don't want to walk with him if he's sobbing. More sobbing. Finally after about twenty minutes of snotty heaving sobbing he finally stops crying. And then we're back to whining. Meanwhile, I'm thinking where the hell is this place? I thought you said a mile!?!?

I come to find out that midway through the journey our friend has taken a different path, a longer path, about two miles longer, to a different beach. So now I am SEETHING. Had I known this I would have made a different decision back when we were only ten minutes from the car. Now we were forty minutes from the car and presumably 15 minutes from the beach. I am almost about to burst into tears myself because now the poor kid probably has a rash between his legs, he's totally humiliated, he's exhausted from all the sobbing, I'm exhausted from hearing the sobbing, I hate our friends (friend, it was really the husband who made the covert trail redirect), I hate my husband for letting all of this happen, I hate myself for forgetting the spares and I hate that the return trip is uphill.

My son is now whimpering that it's too far for him. So I tell him that when we get to the beach he can take off his clothes and they'll get dry in the sun. And as we're walking I'm saying, don't worry honey, we're almost there. You're a really good hiker. You're doing a great job. Over and over, until I realize that I'm actually talking to myself. We're almost there. You can do this. You're a good hiker...
And when we do finally ch the beach, my son takes off his clothes as does his buddy and he is transformed back into a playful, cooperative, potty-trained three year old. After a few hours of relaxing we walked down the beach a short ways and took the original trail back which was, indeed, only one mile. And with pants and tears dried, it was an easy, drama-free trip back to the car.