Playing the Wilderness Game

Today was one of those days… woke up hung-over. Hungry. Didn’t feel like doing a damn thing.

Even the kid slept in, until 8:15am! She never sleeps past 6:30am.. so I foolishly thought she’d feel well-rested and happy. Instead, she was miserable and whiny.

We decided to go out to breakfast around 10:30am… originally at our favorite diner. Then Little J decided she wanted to go to Bob Evans instead (our local one is hard to get to and has terrible service). Okay, fine. Then she was upset because J wouldn’t flick a paper football around at the table while we were waiting. Then we were all full and uncomfortable when we got home… vegetate time.

An hour into us playing on our various devices, Little J started complaining that she was bored. Ughhhhhh. I hate those kind of weekend days. She asked me to play a game with her… you know the type. It’s all imaginary, I have to put on a ridiculous amount of shit (scarf for a belt, crazy bracelet thing, some ugly hat on my head, etc.). Then I have to follow her around while she makes it up as she goes along:

“Okay… pretend that my room is the store. And right now you’re the cashier, and I’m the customer. Then a bear runs through the aisles and a leprechaun zaps it with his wand. Now the living room is a jungle and we have to hunt for food to survive. Pretend the cat is a squirrel… no I’m not going to really hit her I’m just pretending! [cat hiss] Mom don’t do it like that, that’s the wrong way to do it! You have to do it like this! Okay now we’re going to do it like this instead. Mom? Mom! Are your eyes closed?! Mooooooooooom!”

You get the picture.

I hate those kind of games with a passion. As in, fucking hate it. I would saw off my left arm with a dull butter knife instead if that was option B. I am just not one of these parents that can get down on the floor and dress Barbies, create an entire Squinkie neighborhood in her bedroom, drive Matchbox cars around in circles for hours. That’s just not me, and I’m not afraid to admit that… I don’t think it makes me a bad parent.

I’d rather play a board game, video game, make something together, go outside and play real games… I am really not good for the imaginary stuff. I invite kids to come play with her to fulfill that need. So when she begged me to join her for the “hunt for food to survive” game today (inspired by our shared love for Hunger Games), a light bulb lit up in my mind. Why not go outside and play “Wilderness” instead. Boom goes the dynamite!

We live within walking distance of a state park/nature preserve, but the only time we went there was before we moved to our current place. How does that even make sense? I asked J if he would join us too, being the former Boy Scout and self-proclaimed outdoorsy expert. You know, point out poison ivy and stuff like that… we needed him on our Wilderness team. Wanting to try and indulge Little J’s imagination, I told her we could pretend we are in the Games, going into the arena.

15 minute walk from home to park.

So we each donned a pin (to mimic Katniss’ mocking jay one), put a bunch of stuff in a bag (twine, floral tape, wire and wire cutters, first aid kit, flash light, water, etc.) and got dressed and covered in bug spray. I made it a point to take it as seriously as I could, and she ate it right the hell up. It took about 15 minutes to get to the nature preserve and get started. The ongoing goal was to find a branch we could use to build a makeshift bow. We were unsuccessful. Little J was pretty disappointed, but we managed to see some other cool shit to make up for it:

Skink with a blue tail

J sharpened a stick so she could pretend to spear fish in the pond

Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar

Hard to see, but there is a family of turtles on the sticks!

Algae, anyone?

Downed tree root

Walk on the wild side

As you can see, it all worked out in the end :) We spent 2 hours in the woods and she was so exhausted when we came home that she didn’t whine anymore. Hiked that shit right out of her. We will be making this a weekly trip, now that we’ve done the walk and realized how extremely easy it is to get to this place.

Happy Sunday y’all.



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