Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lesson learned...

I'd been promising the kids a field trip for quite some time now. The weather man said it was supposed to be in the 50's and it had been one of those weeks. You know, the kind that make you scratch your head and think "what was I thinking?"

Jack is vigorously studying the Civil War, and when I say vigorously, I mean he knows all the important battles. He's memorized the Gettysburg address. He can tell you more about the political significance of the North and the South than I probably could. We are working our way through coloring each and every Civil War uniform there ever was, and they have to be exactly as the book says. (He's a lot like me, in case you hadn't noticed...)

Just 5 minutes from our house is Wilson's Creek Battlefield, where a Civil War battle took place in 1861. There is an awesome museum, with a small 30 minute movie, great dioramas, and real artifacts.

Jack ended up getting a Union hat for his history banquet later this year, and was the happiest I've ever seen him. He ran around pretending to load his air enrifle, rolling around in the high, dried weeds, pretending to shoot all of us. He was absolutely thrilled beyond belief.

We decided to go for a walk to the old Mill site along the creek. It starts out innocent enough. We run a little, walk a little. I take some cool pictures. The kids run from informational sign to the next, reading the fun facts excitedly. We cross the creek. We cross the cornfield. We keep on going. I mention once or twice that we're getting really far away from the car. Echos of "No let's keep going" cut the now cooling air.

The boys run. The girls learn how to pee outside. I take some more cool pictures. We emerge from the woods to find ourselves on an abandoned road. We take a left and keep moving north (or I hope it's north.) We make a few stops along the way. The sky is overcast, and my phone keeps beeping that I'm roaming. The temperature never did reach the 50's and I'd say is now much closer to the 30's. The cold wind burns my cheeks while my hot breath fogs my glasses.

The walk back seemed to take like 10 times longer than the scenic hike through the woods. We were now on the side of the black top road, anticipating the vision of our car. With the climb of each hill, Justine became a little more despondent. I knew when the whining had crescendoed to a feverish pitch, perhaps I was in trouble. I began to silently pray that the car would just appear out of no where. We had been walking for a really, really long time. I began to mistrust my usually keen sense of direction. What if I had turned the wrong way when we emerged from the woods... what if we had just spent the last hour walking in the wrong direction?

The boys, of course, were at least 100 feet ahead of Jameson and Jaiden, I was behind, but mostly because I was begging Justine to keep walking. The boys topped the hill and began shouting, "The car. The car. We see the car." Thank you GOD. Justine was crumbling as we prepared for the climb up this last hill. Despite my better judgement, I told Jaiden to stay with her on the side of the road. I would come right back with the car for both of them.

I climbed the top of the hill and rounded the next corner to find the boys jumping up and down saying, "We tricked you. We tricked you." There was no car. We were never going to find it. We were all going to die. If I could catch those boys, I'd kill them.I don't know if you know why they call it the Ozark Mountains, but it's because the hills are like freaking mountains. Up and Down. Steep. Repeat.

I stood at the top of the hill, not knowing if I should go back down to get the girls and do what with them? Carry Justine back up that hill? That's not going to happen. Should I keep going? I knew that damn car had to be there somewhere. It wasn't that big of a place. We had walked about 5 miles at this time, hiked up and down the hills, in and out of the mud, all the way through the woods.

This is definitely not one of my prouder parenting moments. But what else could I do?

Up another hill. Down another hill. I began to panic. The only car I've seen all afternoon passes us on the one way road. I memorize their license plates... you know just in case. As we round the next hill, the boys begin to scream "car," and this time, I know they mean it. We sprint to the car. After hiking 5 miles, this is harder than it sounds. Josh, Jack and Jameson now understand that I AM FREAKING OUT.

We hop in the car and skid out of the parking lot. Within seconds, we see Jaiden and Justine walking slowly down the road. THANK YOU GOD.

As we finished out the afternoon, I made the mistake of asking the kids what they had learned that day...

"Well for starters, not to leave your children on the side of the road without a cell phone..."
I don't even have to tell you who said that, do I?


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