December 2019
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Toddler Hikes

Kristian has had some Saturday work to do lately, so LJ and I have started going on some little hikes together. I guess I should say “hikes,” or maybe just “walks in the woods.” I strap her to my back in a frame backpack and we go somewhere with plenty of rocks, and trees, and dirt. Not a lot of climbing up mountains, though. I’m not sure what you’d call it.

I think LJ would call it, “fun.”


The first time we went together, I couldn’t find anyone to go with us. I was a little nervous about taking her out in the woods all by myself, but then I decided that I needed to get over it. So, off we went, just the two of us.

We’d gone about a mile and a half when she decided that she no longer wanted to be in the backpack. I can only surmise that she was getting a little heated up in there, because I can’t see any other reason to want out. That thing is sweet. I wish they made a grownup version. I would hire a strongman to carry me around in it.

I let her down to stretch out her legs, which she thought was pretty awesome (so much dirt! so many rocks!). But then we got to a slight incline, and she decided it wasn’t so awesome anymore.


She didn’t want to go back into the backpack. She didn’t want to walk. It was a classic toddler dilemma, really. One that can only be resolved with screaming. Lots and lots of screaming.

(Most toddler dilemas involve fundamental incompatibilities and copious amounts of screaming.)

We finally reached a compromise, of sorts. I carried her in my arms instead of the backpack. And she didn’t yell like she was being taken out into the woods by a serial killer. But you know what sucks? Carrying 25 pounds of toddler up and down hills. Especially when you have a perfectly lovely backpack that could take all of that toddler and make it easier to carry, but is just more dead weight.

We did a bit of a dance, with me picking her up, putting her down, putting her in the backpack, putting her down, etc.

I attempted to bribe her with munchkins (“do you want a munchkin? I need you to stay up there and stop screaming and kicking me in the kidneys.”) Because when the going gets tough, I am allowed to wuss out and promise my kid a mini-donut if she’ll let me carry her out of the woods in a manner that doesn’t leave me arms feeling like jello. That mostly worked (if you’re going to bribe your kid, make it a good one, I say.) Even when she started fussing again, I would just point out bird noises, or the wind blowing through the trees, or get her to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for me.

Lessons learned: start the hike off with your tiny tyrant walking. Wait for her to ask to get up into the backpack. Don’t let her down, if you can help it. If she starts squawking, try to distract her instead. It’s a lot easier to calm her down while maintaining the status quo than it is to get her back into the backpack after you’ve given her a taste for freedom.

Also, sometimes bribes are just an excuse to extend the outing. Because who doesn’t love a munchkin after a 2-3 hour hike? I may or may not have bought a munchkin or two for my own consumption.

(Lilian requested a “yellow” one.)


This past Saturday, Kristian had to work (again). I was thinking about taking LJ for another hike, which is why it was so completely perfect that Yogurt texted us asking if we wanted to go hiking. Because Mommy/Daughter hikes are pretty awesome, but so is being able to say “hey, can you reach into that back pocket and hand me my water bottle?”

I occasionally do learn my lessons: this time we took a few minutes when we first arrived to let LJ stretch out her legs.


We wandered around in circles for a bit, but we finally figured out a good route. And then we settled into a nice rhythm of grownup talk (nothing too grownup for little ears, though) and “look! birdies!” followed by more grownup talk, followed by “like a diamond in the sky!”


At about the three-quarter mark, LJ got really quiet. Another advantage of going hiking with a good friend? He can confirm for you that your kid is completely sacked out. And then take a picture of it for posterity.


I can’t remember the last time LJ fell asleep on me. It was probably a year ago. I had almost forgotten how nice it is to feel that comforting little weight. The total relaxation. The trust that you will keep her safe. It’s such a privilege to watch over her.

I guess she was pretty tired, because she didn’t even wake up when we got back to our car.


(She did wake up when I attempted to transfer her to her carseat, but you can’t win them all.)

I am so grateful to my step-brother and his wife for giving us this awesome backpack (they put quite a few miles on it, but their kids are too big for it now). I’m extra grateful that my child who doesn’t like to sit still seems to enjoy riding around in said backpack. I hope that there are many more adventures in our future!

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