The summer began with a splat. Actually, it was more like a gentle thump. The sound of one small triangular bite of boiled potato rebounding off the cheek of my 7yr old daughter- who happened to be refusing to eat her vegetables. Now normally I am against wasting food, I have chickens for leftovers after all, but the truth of the matter is that I made (and served) 10lbs of these boiled red potatoes 3 days ago, and this was the 3rd round of leftovers. What we did with them today wasn’t going to have any impact on the starving people around the world. I’d just as soon of have had all the guests eat them, than be stuck with the last pound in my fridge. Not to mention my 2 children who don’t care for spuds much beyond french fries.
So there we were, dining in the backyard during the last week of school, waiting for daddy to come home. Girlchild was refusing to take a bite of her vegetable and so I tossed a chunk at her mouth. The direct hit surprised her, and got her laughing, which opened her mouth. So I aimed another chunk, and fired. Should have been a clear shot, what with the gaping holes in her mouth where her baby teeth used to reside. But she whipped her head to the side and this one glanced off her nose. I kept going, one at a time. Persistence. I’ve heard it can take 11 exposures to a food to get a kid to like it. Surely 11 shots of potato fired at your pie hole couldn’t be all that different?
It wasn’t long before Girlchild started flicking spuds back. Now Manchild wanted in on the fun, and drove up in his power wheels gator, mouth open for a clean shot. But I can’t do distance any better than up close, and potatoes don’t arc quite like popcorn does, so all of my shots fell short and land on his shoulders. The young ‘ens begin to argue, naturally, and I ask Manchild to please do something (I can’t remember what). He fails to acknowledge my request, and ends up with a whole hand full of buttered taters splattering across the side of his face and into the yard. I’d grabbed a handful and launched to get this attention. Mama doesn’t like to be ignored. Now we were all howling with laughter so hard we barely noticed Captain Schenanigans stepping on to the deck. The children catch him up to speed on our Mommy-induced food fight, and he silently shakes his head. There is minimal surprise on his face. This should tell me something…
One week later we are our own band of gypsies going down the highway, heading to Birmingham, AL (catching up with close friends and reconnecting our children to their pre-arranged future spouses), then Liberty, MS (visiting one of our favorite aunts and a great-grandmother), before landing in New Orleans, LA (staying with more beloved in-law family, attending a cousin’s wedding, then going on a swamp tour in Lafayette). It was a grand adventure, and thanks to GPS, Manchild never once asked “are we there yet?”. Nope, he now requests to know “When are we going to reach our destination?” 🙂
Did I mention this was our kids first time staying in a hotel? All totaled they spent 4 nights in 3 different hotels and it blew their little minds! They piled the excessive amounts of pillows on their dad and sat on him, watched strangers below going to the Garth Brooks concert at the Cajundome, and slept as though they couldn’t get far enough away from each other!
But I believe I speak for all of us when I say that one of our favorite parts of the trip was the Swamp Tour! We visited Basin Landing, after repeatably reassuring Girlchild that we knew what we were doing, we were relatively competent parents, and no children had ever been eaten during a gator tour. She had her doubts, but since we gave her no other options, she decided to tag along. http://www.basinlanding.com/
I think our tour guide was Tucker, at least I recall it starting with a T on his faded camouflage shirt. He was as native as they came down there, and even spoke to the gators in French. Essentially, the swamp boat was your basic food truck for the alligators, and Tucker would call each gator he recognized in a certain area by name, feed them chicken, and in return they would let him pet and show them off without de-limbing him. It seemed like a fair trade to me. What didn’t make sense to me was the overwhelming urge I had to pet the gators. We had been warned against reaching for them on the dock, and it seemed like a no brainer at the time. But each time I thought one of those giant marsh lizards wasn’t looking I was wanted to reach over the boat and give him a pat. ‘Cept 2 Schenaniganlets would do it too, then we’d all have to walk the plank of shame as we were kicked off the boat. Least that’s how it plays out in my mind.
Tucker had some great history and stories of the swamp, even hunted and raised gators himself at times. I’m sure he had even more to tell, but Manchild kept stealing his thunder by interrupting with stories of the Crocodile Hunter; Tucker’s Aussie nemesis (or so I like to think). As per anytime we go out into public, there wasn’t a person in a 40ft radius who wasn’t subjected to one of Manchild’s tales. The boy does love to share.
But after we got back, had a lunch of alligator and crawfish parts, and recounted our favorite events of the day, Girlchild had to admit she enjoyed the tour. Despite the fact that we all think the hunting cabins floating in the middle of the water are just plain crazy, we did like blasting through the swamp and running over stuff, just so long as the boat didn’t linger anywhere too long.
So now we are back home for a while, fully immersed in Summer Bible Camp at church and sorely missing sleeping in. I’ve had all the fried food I can stomach til Christmas, and Jesus is gonna have to help me to tolerate another 8hrs in the van next month (heading out on our Super Family Camping Trip). But for now, I’m going to attempt to relax in the moment, enjoy being home, and thank God I don’t live in gator country. ‘Cause they like poultry even more than I do, and we just hatched a fresh batch of ducklings!