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Not-So-Great Outdoors

Parental indiscretion

By Rachel Laing | Illustration by Kristina Micotti

Not-So-Great Outdoors

Trail Drama illustration

Let me start by saying: My son gets straight A’s. He works diligently each day immediately after school to stay on top of his work. My daughter, if stranded in the desert, would give her last drop of water to a thirsty puppy who happened upon her, for there is no fur-sporting creature on earth that does not command her compassion and kindness.

They are fine human beings.

But—OH MY GOD—are they lazy! Data from recent weekends and holiday school breaks indicate that these fiends would eat Doritos in front of a TV/ computer/phone/iPad screen all day, every day, if they had their druthers.

They do not, thankfully, have their druthers. They are at our mercy. And witnessing their propensity for sloth, we decided something must be done.

We accept partial responsibility for this issue. We banned screen time during the week, but instead of breaking the habit, as we’d hoped, it compelled them to binge-watch TV on the weekends.

And I certainly haven’t been setting a good example. While working on a political campaign, I was rarely home, and when I was, I was constantly working.

“Her enthusiasm peaked before we even began the hike.”

After months of not exercising, I figured I was more out of shape than they could possibly be, and thought, We could get in shape together!

They seemed pretty excited when we told them we were going to hike at Mission Trails. Georgia appeared in the doorway with a proud pose. “Even when you’re hiking, you have to be fashionable,” she explained with her signature sass, showing off her outfit (cropped green pants, white tank, and pink cupcake t-shirt). That moment, just before our departure, marked the peak of her enthusiasm for our adventure.

Six minutes into the hike (six minutes!), she began questioning our motives. Actual quotes: “Why did you take us to the middle of a desert? We’re going to die out here!” “You did this because you hate us, didn’t you?” “There are no bunnies running around because it’s too hot. It’s too hot for any living thing to be running around!” “WE. ARE. ALL. GOING. TO. DIE. WILL THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?”

Ben, meanwhile, was hardly enjoying himself, but was consoled by the opportunity to deride his sister’s diva attitude. Between her whining and his mocking, the only nature we witnessed was classic human sibling rivalry.

We kept the poor dears on the “death march” just long enough to show them who’s boss. (Us, ostensibly.) We decided to give our nerves a break, so we took the ingrates to lunch at Pizzeria Mozza inside The Headquarters, where Greg and I enjoyed a glass of wine and let a good mealtake the edge off the whole family.

We’ve had more than a few disastrous outings, but we’re not giving up. For the New Year, we’ve instituted mandatory outdoor hours—when everyone puts down their electronics and their attitudes and pretends to be happy. Eventually,we’re betting, it will come true.

If not, at least we know the kids will come to appreciate one of God’s finest cre- ations: the sidewalk café.

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