I took my kids and my sister, Lori, up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday. Fall is my favorite time of year and with the mountains decorated in hues of gold, pink, and copper, I knew that a mountain outing was just what my stressed soul needed. Upon arriving at Tanner's Flat, we were joined by my sisters-in-law and their families. We came prepared with hot dogs, marshmallows, salad, firewood, hatchet, camp chairs, skewers...and as for my children? ATTITUDE.
Let's start with Ian. He had a rotten day at church and left the building in tears because his teacher was "mean" to him. I tried to help him understand that when he does what his teacher says, she is nice. When he doesn't keep his hands to himself, then there are consequences. He replied with, "But I didn't want to do what she said!" Hence the problem. This unfortunate church experience set the tone for the rest of the day and Ian never recovered.
Next is Beka. Normally happy and full of sunshine, she wasn't at her best. To be fair, she did have a bit of a cold and a headache. However, she kept harping on Ian about a pair of sunglasses that he broke several months ago. She wouldn't let it go. And because she wouldn't let it go, Ian couldn't either. The bickering lasted clear into my beautiful autumn mountains.
Tawni. She was tired. She hardly slept the night before and had to be up early for work. She maintained civility and had a good time on our outing, until she decided it was time to leave. I just love it when my kids tell me what to do and when to do it.
Zack wasn't too bad. He was pleasant, but couldn't help teasing Ian and Beka, especially when doing so resulted in a glorious outpouring of emotional rage that is fodder to a teenage boy.
And finally Lori. She was the picture of gloom and doom and couldn't stop worrying about the mounds of homework she had. She even brought it all with her, including a laptop so that she could write a report.
In spite of my cheerful family members, I was determined to have a good time. And I did. And surprisingly, so did they. Except for Ian. His hard day just kept getting harder. He came decked out in navy seal finery; knife, grenades, walkie-talkie. Sadly, none of his cousins wanted to play kill-or-be-killed with him. Being girls that are several years older than he is probably had something to do with that. But Ian's Aunt Jeni took pity on him and they went for a walk, where he tripped and fell end over end. Recovering by the fire, he accidentally got elbowed in the eye by Zack. He fell down another two times before the evening was over and scraped his leg on a branch. Then his hot dog fell in the fire. His response to all this, "I'm having bad luck!"
When it was time to leave, Tawni decided to ride home with her Aunt Kim. I think she'd had enough of us. The rest of my brood piled in the car and we drove a little farther up the canyon to better appreciate the gorgeous foliage. Beka wasn't happy with this detour and voiced her displeasure with a supreme air.
"I have homework."
"Me, too," I said.
During the drive Ian started whimpering and complaining about his horrible day. I was sympathetic at first, but after listening to the same sob story, I started getting irritated.
"Okay, Ian. I get it. Let's move on now."
"I want Dad."
During this exchange I'd turned down the radio so that I could hear him from the backseat.
"Turn up the muusiiiiic!" he whined.
"Ugh! Fine!" My patience was getting thinner.
"You're mean! Why is everybody mean to me?"
"Stop complaining and whining and we will be nice. Nobody likes a whiner."
The complaining never stopped. It just got louder. About this time I noticed something dark in the road. Lori saw it, too. "Stop! Raccoon!"
"I know. I see it."
But it wasn't just one raccoon. There were two. However, one was lying on its back, legs spasming in the air because it had just been run over. The other was walking back and forth in the road, agitated and confused because suddenly its world had changed.
Several things happened simultaneously.
Lori cried out, "Don't look!" So of course everybody looks.
I slowed the car to a crawl.
Beka yelled in my ear, "Mom! There are cars behind you!"
"Beka, don't tell me how to drive!"
"I'm not! There are cars that need to get by!"
"I have to slow down! There are raccoons!"
Ian was whimpering harder, "That's so sad!"
And Zack was trying to be the voice of reason and fix it all.
When we got home Beka's boyfriend was there. Apparently she'd been texting so that his arrival at our house coincided with us getting home. She took solace in his arms because, obviously, she was traumatized by her evil family.
The first thing Ian did was call his daddy.
As for me? I couldn't help thinking that I should have traded places with Tawni and gone home with Kim.