Calvin’s Collapses

I worked as a freelancer after college; many of the articles that I wrote were parenting/family pieces for small regional publications. Often, I used my own family’s travels or experiences either explicitly or implicitly in the published pieces. Of course, I didn’t usually reveal the dirty details (broken down camper vans! nasty diapers! lost pacifiers and colicky babies!).

One of my friends once suggested I compile a collection of the neat-and-tidy articles and pair each with a behind-the-scenes-real-life-warts-and-all version.

While I haven’t done that project (yet), this post (the first in a series all tagged “realness”) will serve as a dose of reality amidst all of the real-but-incomplete New Zealand family travel posts.

Because goodness knows there are plenty of moments when James and I wonder what the heck we were thinking moving halfway around the world with these jokers.

Calvin (who will be 5 in late October) is not the sturdiest or most determined hiker. While the girls (ages 8.5 and 11 years old) are, for the most part, pretty positive about long walks and hill hikes, Calvin has been known to complain with gusto about an impending family tramping session. Cajoling, promising a reward, and lots of encouragement are all prerequisites for Calvin to even attempt a mid-distance trek.

With great frequency, regardless of the length of hike, he simply wilts, becoming like a dead weight. I am often the one bringing up the rear, and the ball and socket joint of my shoulder gets yanked downward as he pulls heavily down on my hand. I must choose between propelling (by yanking, mainly) him onward or allowing him to rest for a minute.

When I offer him a “short rest,” he usually says something to the effect of “I don’t need one MINUTE’S REST. I need 600 millions of days of rest!” or some such 5 year old nonsense.

Only once so far has he simply refused to go any further (on our summit hike of Mount Richardson) and thus ended up on James’ back for a bit of a piggyback ride until he regained his strength.

Cal's down
Just four of the innumerable times Calvin has laid down in the middle of field, trail, or boardwalk, simply unable to go on. At least until he’s offered a(nother) granola bar.

Most recently, I kept him going on a hike in Arthur’s Pass by encouraging him to name all of his superpowers, which apparently include stormpower, bad guy killing power, and the power to fly. He also told me, near the end of the 2 hour hike, that he has black circles inside him that make him do bad things, but these are balanced out by the good circles.

As long as the good circles keep winning out, I have hope that the collapsed Calvin photos scattered throughout my camera’s memory card will become fewer and farther between.

Richardson collage 3
Two more classic Calvin rest poses.

Until then, Calvin talks a big talk even as he lays down on nearly every walk; his preschool teacher told me that his answer every Friday afternoon to the question of what he’ll do this coming weekend is, “A seven-and-a-half hour HIKE.” 



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