Disclaimer: This post is full of shameless mom bragging. All statements made within are subject to full retraction and are limited to the time frame referenced.
This weekend we took a short camping trip up to the Indiana Dunes. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to visit a new Indiana state park. I also wanted to make a trip to see my grandpa. The Indiana Dunes was a perfect combination of both. We would get to explore the park and then make a quick detour to see my grandpa on the way home. Win-win.
The only thing that wasn’t win-win was all of our attitudes as we headed out. Actually, just Maddie’s and mine. Riley was doing just fine. Maddie, on the other hand, has been suffering from the kindergarten after school affliction — the terrible mood that takes over all kindergarteners as they make the shift from whatever they were doing before to school life.
It took me by surprise, although it shouldn’t have. Riley had a very bad case of it her first year of elementary school. I suppose I should be happy that my mom brain sufficiently blocked those bad memories. When Maddie broke down for two hours after her second day of kindergarten over getting two candies instead of three, the memories came flooding back. It is a long road ahead.
I was in a particularly bad mood that was made of many causes and kept gaining more. You know, the kind of bad mood during which you continue to look for things to stay in your bad mood. It was ugly. Between Maddie and me, the outlook for our weekend excursion seemed bleak. Still, we made the most of it and hit the road.
It was a beast of a drive. What should have taken a little over three hours ended up taking us five with the traffic. The girls didn’t complain once.
When we got to the campground, we discovered that it was railroad adjacent. When I say railroad adjacent, I don’t mean across the street. I mean located at the bottom of the tracks. It shook our poor little cabin. I was skeptical, but, all smiles, the girls were on a mission to have fun and practically skipped to the park to watch the movie the campground had scheduled.
The next day, after a night of regularly scheduled railroad wake-ups, I was feeling a bit groggy. Until, I realized that Maddie had slept in the bunk bed the whole night. She had gone to bed there voluntarily and had stayed there all night. It was a victory!
Still riding high from my excitement of having slept in my own bed by myself all night, we headed to the dunes for our first day of exploration. I wanted to hike the dunes. The girls wanted to swim. In a great compromise, we did both. We took turns doing each other’s activities with no complaints from the other parties.
Who were these happy-go-lucky kids who didn’t complain?
I was so proud I took them out to ice cream at the end of the day. While there, Riley ran in front of an elderly couple. Disappointed, I gave her a long lecture on respecting elders and being mindful.
We returned to the cabin for a night of cooking out, wagon rides, and dancing to a live band. After yet another night of sleeping in a bed by myself, we headed back to the park in the morning for more exploration. On the agenda was a three-dune climb. It was what I had been looking forward to, but I knew would take a lot of mitigating the girls’ feelings to get them through it. To my surprise, they didn’t complain once. In fact, Maddie ended the hike proclaiming it was the most fun she’d ever had.
Again proud of them, I took them out for pizza. Unfortunately, the service was super slow. In a mom error, I made a comment to that effect. Riley was quick to put me in my place. The server was busy, she explained. She went on to lecture me that the server was just doing a job and we should be nice to her. In equal parts, I was apologetic and also proud.
The next day (yes, Maddie slept in her own bed again!), we headed out to visit my grandpa before coming home. At the retirement home where he lives, I watched Riley navigate the hallways with extreme caution. She waited for the other residents to go first, made sure she was polite, had a good distance when she passed them, and was incredible respectful. Never before had I seen her take a lesson to heart so immediately and well! Again, I was proud.
The visit itself went really well. The girls were so well-behaved and engaged with their great-grandpa in ways they were scared to before. It was good to see him and better to see the girls have fun with him.
All this to say, we had a good Labor Day weekend and I’m a pretty proud mama.