Keana wore her pajamas, her favorite Velcro shoes, and a rainbow fleece from her one-year-old days (so yeah, way too small, but she’s big enough to dress herself, right?). I wore my shorts and t-shirt from yesterday, grabbed her Hello Kitty backpack and stuffed it with a little bear, a bunny, and a water bottle (so yeah, the backpack was a little small for me, but Keana’s going to carry it, right?). She screams out, “We’re going on an adventure!” as we exit the house for a Sunday morning hike.
After a quick stop for some coffee we headed for Tilden Regional Park in the Berkeley hills. I opened the sunroof, baby held her backpack and looked out the window while the local alternative rock station played hits from all the way back in the ’90s. Soundgarden, New Order, and Social D provided our cruising soundtrack while I sipped my coffee and Keana ate her mini-stone wheat thin crackers.
We pulled off the road by the trail and, Hello Kitty backpack in tow, I carried her to the trailhead. She refused to get down. We’ve hiked on paved paths at Tilden before, and I’ve carried her in a backpack on dirt trails, but this was the first time I was trying to get her to hike on her own on a “real” trail. I tried to explain to her that’s why we wear shoes, to keep our actual feet from getting dirty, but Keana wasn’t buying it. So I carried her up the trail all the while trying different angles to get her to hike on her own. At various moments in our conversation I would ask, “So do you want to try it now?” and Keana would reply, “No. Papa carry me. I don’t want to walk.” After a couple hundred yards of hiking uphill carrying Keana, I was wishing that damn Hello Kitty backpack wasn’t too small for me to wear.
We reached the top of the hill and I had to set her down. At first she threatened to unleash a little two-year-old storm, but I quickly jumped in with a barrage of nature observations to distract her.
“Look baby, a rolly-polly!” I exclaimed as I pointed to the tiny bug moving across our path. It became aware of our focus and it curled up into its little ball.
“And listen! Do you hear the birdies? Where are they?” I asked. That was a good one because it was impossible to see any birds in the foliage so we looked for a long time.
And just like that, Keana had forgotten all about the dirty dirt she was standing on. I proposed we move forward and she said, “I wanna go home and see Mama!”
“But we just got here Baby. How about we go a little further?”
“No! I want to see Mama!” she yelled back.
“Okay, no problem, let’s head back,” I said secretly pleased we had even made it this far.
So we continued back down the hill I had carried her up, all the while singing, “We’re walking on dirt! We’re walking on dirt!” and carefully avoiding all the big rocks on the trail. Before we knew it, we were back at the car.
“I don’t want to get in the car!” She yells.
“But you said you wanted to go home, right?” I try to confirm.
“Yeah! I wanna see Mama!”
“Well, in order to see Mama, we have to get back in the car,” I try to reason.
“No! I want to hike home!” She yells back.
“Oh Baby, it’s way too far to hike. But if you want to hike more, we can head back up the trail.”
At this she’s satisfied and heads back up the hill, watching out for bugs and rocks. After a few moments she starts to say, “We’re going home to see Mama!” Hmmmmmm. Where did I go wrong in the little talk at the car? I had to let her in on what was really going on.
“Well Baby, we’re actually not headed towards home,” I say, “remember we headed back up the trail away from the car and away from home.”
“Well, which way is it?” she says. Pointing up the trail she asks, “Is it this way?” then pointing the opposite direction, “Or is it this way Papa?”
I had to laugh.
“It’s that way,” I say pointing back to the car.
“Okay, this way then,” and she heads back down the trail towards the car.
When we arrive back at the car she happily gets in her car seat with her bag of crackers and a book. I turn the radio back on, take a sip of my coffee, and point the car in the right direction, the direction of home.