Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning as We Go

Last June my friends and I took a playgroup trip to a local farm to pick strawberries. I was nine months pregnant, overwrought with exhaustion, and accompanied by my daughter who had decided to begin our day at 4:30 am.

Believing that a day outside would provide a nice distraction to get us peacefully to naptime, I quickly learned that a mother of a two year old should never expect anything to occur peacefully (we can only hope).

Though she had a blast picking (and eating) mounds of beautiful strawberries, her fun quota was filled by the time we hit the produce stand to pay. While we waited in line, she decided that the time would be much better spent making the most of the gravel road beneath our feet. The first spray hit the back of my leg and, before I could address the action, the second spray hit a nearby car.

She was admonished and picked up (no easy task for 9 monther) and at this point one obvious message should have been sent from my brain to my legs: leave now.

But I had to pay. Which I did while a stringbean toddler writhed and flailed as I grappled with balancing a box of strawberries and maintaining that face that says, "I am so in control right now."

Then someone threw out the idea to head to the diner for lunch.

Lunch? At nine months, my days of eating whatever I wanted and not having to suck in my stomach were fleeting. Despite my better judgement, I somehow rationalized that grilled cheese, fries, and a special trip to the diner would peacefully distract her.

I don't even think I got a chance to look at the menu. Our exit was loud and public and I just should have gone with the pressing urges of my instincts, which were sending me loud signals to abort the mission.

This year: we decided to go again. We headed to the same field, for the same produce, and the same daughter....plus a very cranky, exhausted, teething little brother.

How did this time go?

She had a blast. He had some initial fun pulling off the strawberries and squishing them. But my fear of allergens, coupled with his earnest attempts to eat them made for some fussy moments.

But this time I decided to actually learn from last year's mistakes. I distracted him enough while my daughter assembled a pretty interesting assortment of quality strawberries, and then we paid for them, as well as some cherries and a beautiful little lime for my own personal purposes that I will need to enjoy later this evening.

Another year older, another child smarter.

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