Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sometimes mine is not the loudest

My wonderful editor is on a much-deserved vacation (though I wish she could do something more fun than move on her vacay), which is likely why this week's River City Jules was in print only and not online.

I have reprinted it here with just a little background not suitable for the Journal-World...

Within an hour of entering Yellowstone, Caroline had to use the restroom. We pulled over to the first restroom we saw along magnificently scenic Yellowstone Lake. Dave took the other three to skip stones while I took Caroline to the restroom. We walked into the rather clean, bright room to find a scout camp-like potty, a toilet structure leading directly to a hole in the ground. Just as I warned her to not look down the hole, she did exactly that.

Caroline freaked.

"NO! I'M NOT DOING IT! THAT IS THE WORST THING EVER!!!!" she cried, loud enough for Montana to hear.

This fit continued out of the restroom, to the car, back to the restroom and finally into the woods, where Caroline relieved herself of approximately 20 gallons. Remarkably, she managed to go the next 2 days without ever setting foot in another port-a-potty structure again.

And, even more remarkably, I did manage to stumble across a child whose irrational fears and subsequent fit rivaled Caroline's....

River City Jules, August 29, 2011

There are so many moments on a family vacation I have grown to expect. There’s the moment we pull out of the driveway and I realize this is the cleanest our car will be for many, many miles. There is the moment I look at our family enjoying life away from the responsibilities of home while I fold laundry fresh from the Laundromat, stifling the urge to vomit how lucky they are to have someone willing to selflessly bust her rump in order to allow such happy memories to be created.

And then there is the moment I encounter a child who makes me feel better about my own.

This poor, unfortunate lad was found at the Norris Geyser Basin on Vacation Day Six.

As my husband may have mentioned last week, I am a bit of a safety freak. I scoured books and websites about Yellowstone before leaving home, all of which highlighted the many ways one can leave a man behind while vacationing there.

Tragic, terrible fates seemed to await with every turn of every page from bear attacks (skipped that part) to the very volcano on which Yellowstone was built erupting to the worst of all: death by falling in boiling hot water found in the park’s many geysers.

My 18-hour safety speech on the drive there appeared to set in with our kids as we passed warning sign after warning sign depicting the same drawing of a little boy falling helplessly into boiling water, his parents nowhere near him as he tumbled recklessly into nature’s pressure cooker where, we can safely assume, rescuers recovered nothing more than steaming bones.

I held my children’s hands tighter than any of us deserved as we strictly followed the path on the rail-less boardwalks that wound around the geysers.

Suddenly, just up the path, I heard the unmistakable sound of a small child being poached alive.

“NOOOO!” I heard him cry. “Get me OUT OF HERE!”

I looked around for the nearest park ranger. A child was clearly in the very worst kind of trouble and desperately needed help.

“Somebody get me OUT!” his pleas pierced the sulfuric air and pained my heart. I hesitated just before we turned the corner, fearing our kids would return to school two weeks later with tales of watching a child melt into a mud pit never to be seen again.

But as we rounded the bend to Mother Nature’s cruel and public kitchen, I spied a father with an all-too-familiar look on his face, one of apology and shame, as his child, a boy no more than four years old, struggled for freedom on his mother’s lap.

“It’s a splinter,” he explained to each passerby.

I gave that man the most sympathetic smile I could muster and grabbed my kids tight to my chest as we strolled cautiously onward. The car was a pit and our laundry was dirty, but none of that mattered. For at that moment, mine were the best kids in sight. 

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