Today I posted on Instagram and Facebook this picture and caption:
It captures the beauty of the mountains and skies. It shows Ethan trying to make a silly pose and Connor smiling sweetly. It tells of a morning spent enjoying nature and getting many steps on the pedometer. Ahh, how wonderful. It qualifies for a “life is good” post.
If I left it at that, I would be guilty of Facebook Fraud. Truth be told, my older son was complaining about being forced to hike today. About 30 seconds after I took this picture, he went on to say how tired he already was and that he wanted to go back. I had had high hopes for this hike and brought 2 large bottles of iced water. I dropped one right away, and it lay lodged underneath the car so far in the center that it was well beyond reach. One bottle it is! With boys begging to turn around every minute, only one bottle was needed anyway.
It felt like we had barely started when Connor asked if it was time to stop and eat a snack. After warding snack time off for as long as possible, I finally relented and we sat and ate, but not before Connor in his excitement to devour his raspberry fig bar tripped and fell. He surface-scraped his knee, but one might have thought he was in danger of bleeding out the way he carried on about the site of red on his skin. At least Ethan was genuinely happy since he was finally getting the rest he had been asking for the last (when did we leave the car?) 10 minutes straight.
At some points they were holding my hand not in an act of motherly affection but to try to get me to pull them along the trail which only made my feel like an ox of the early settlers. I lost count of the times I was asked, “How much longer?” I was running out of distracting tidbits like “Look at that rock!” or “Hey, another cactus!” One of my tidbits (“Look at this little anthill!”) was a little too successful. They not only looked, but they squatted and set up camp for so long that I could have walked 4 miles to the peak and back and surely found them still there. The only way I got them to move was to wave the white flag of surrender and agree to turn around at that point. Immediately they severed all attachments to the ant colony and jumped up to head back with glee.
There was so much glee that my younger one ran. Ethan (who would rather do a million other things than run, or hike apparently) and I were looking at bees pollinate a cactus flower. Sometime during that observation, Connor must have bitten the dust yet again. We heard his shrieks of despair shortly after we snapped this picture.
This time there was more than one surface-scrape, and he was crying hard. He had a full glob of gooey snot the size of his fist hanging out of his nose. I know the size because that fist knocked it off his nose and onto his T-shirt. Even the beauty of cactus flowers cannot erase that gross image from my mind. We hobbled back to the car, retrieved the dropped bottle after backing out, and went home making the $1 parking fee NOT the deal of the century had we been there for a 2-water bottle hike, but instead akin to the exorbitant cost of a brief 2-boy hike time in downtown Chicago.
In reality, all they really want to do is play Minecraft on the Xbox.
The full picture behind the post picture includes all these mishaps and not so pleasantries. We reveal what we choose when we post on social media. Like most things, there is so much more behind each one. This does not mean that life isn’t good. The boys and I saw dragons and elephants in the clouds of blue skies. We saw an unusual lizard; Ethan dropped some knowledge that it was probably a collared lizard who had grown immunity to rattlesnake venom. Thanks to a mom-speech about living things, they were actually cheering on the busy ants instead of destroying the hill as they confessed they had done in the past. Even though there is little that can compete with Minecraft, a morning hike in the foothills is definitely worth the pain and torture they make it out to be. Ahh, life IS good.