I’m a planner, an anticipator. Part of the joy of an adventure for me is planning it and seeing how those plans do – or don’t – come to fruition. Sometimes the plans gone awry result in a better situation than I would have imagined, or at least a funny story. Other times, they just flop. This past weekend, we had one of the latter.
We didn’t have anything major on the calendar for Saturday, but I had seen an advertisement for a “truck touch” and thought it sounded like fun. For a fundraiser, a local elementary school brought together a whole slew of big trucks for kids to climb on and explore. As Sprout enjoyed his tour of our hometown’s fire station, this sounded like a great opportunity for Mommy-Sprout time. Chris was tasked with staying home and mowing the lawn.
It started well enough, hopping on the bus that stops right outside our house. Sprout loves riding the bus, so this was a treat in and of itself. During our half-mile walk to the event, three things quickly became evident. One, that we needed to stop for a bathroom break. Because I feel like a mooch if I use an establishment’s bathroom without purchasing something, I bought a banana and hot chocolate from a local cafe. Two, I realized I didn’t have enough cash, requiring a stop at the ATM. And three, the event was both further than anticipated and Sprout was moving slower than I expected. While I didn’t think he was going to be full-speed ahead, I thought it might step to it a little more. At times, I was practically dragging him even though my pace was pretty darn slow. By the time we got there, it was past 11:30, practically time for lunch.
But almost immediately, I realized that time wasn’t our biggest issue. That would be the incessant, very loud honking of truck horns. Most of them weren’t too loud, but every few minutes, the huge Mack truck’s horn would go off. Honnnnnnkkkkkkk! it bellowed. And every time, Sprout shuddered, turned away and hugged my legs. I knew beforehand that he doesn’t like loud, sudden noises, but I hadn’t even considered associating “truck touch” with “kids constantly honking trucks’ horns.” His fear inspired guilt in me for even thinking this was a good idea.
To distract from the noise, I tried to show Sprout the equipment a utility worker laid out in front of his truck, including giant rubber gloves that go up to your elbow. I offered to bring him on the moving van’s lift that was slowly carrying children and their parents up and down. But every answer was a simple, definitive “no.” The only other thing he would say was, “Trucks are loud.” He spoke softly, but his message was clear.
We found some respite in the bounce house, which Sprout clamored to enter. But even that was punctuated by the deep rumbling horn that each time made him stop jumping and look at me worriedly through the mesh.
Wandering even further from the main parking lot, we settled in the school’s playground. There, even the loudest honks became background noise. The play jeep that didn’t move was much more his speed than the actual big trucks. Away from the blood-curdling honks, he ran up stairs, slid down slides, and shared equipment with other kids. It was an amazing difference.
After about 45 minutes at the playground, I called Chris to pick us up. The whole bus rigamarole was too complicated to get Sprout back in time for his nap. Walking back to the entrance, Sprout could barely tolerate the honking for long enough to admire the shiny fire truck.
So not everything I do works out, even activities specifically designed for kids. Thankfully, this was a pretty low-cost, low-time commitment activity. And Sprout did end up having a good time in the end – he obviously liked the playground and later said “Liked fire truck.” I just have to remind myself not to be disappointed when the reality of a day out doesn’t match my imagined version.