I’m an active guy, and I married an active gal, so when we got pregnant I was determined to stay active and not gain fifteen pounds and look twenty years older like a lot of my fellow new Dads. It’s all about having a plan. If you just react to things as they happen it’s chaos and confusion, but if you sit down and think it out, make a plan and stick to it, you can have some small control over your life.
When the kids were small, we loaded them into harnesses and hiked with them hanging on us, but as they got bigger and started walking themselves we took them on short hikes, then longer hikes, until finally we were spending every weekend in the country, hiking and camping. The boys loved it. What boy wouldn’t love hiking out in the hills, catching bugs and such, being in nature?
One problem that arose was that I was the Quartermaster of the operation, in the sense that my backpack was the size of a small elephant and contained all of our supplies, emergency and snack. We came to call this Turtling, because I was like a turtle with this backpack – including the fact that if I fell onto my back I probably wouldn’t be able to get up without help. This also meant that every five minutes I was asked to stop and stand still while someone rooted around in my backpack for an energy bar or a sandwich, a map or a first aid kit. I didn’t mind stopping, but it took everyone so long to find what they needed – it was simply boring. I hate to admit it, but I got a little crabby about it.
Finally, my wife told me to quit complaining, and she would apply her superior woman’s brain to the problem, and a few days later she presented me with the Large Backpack from the Clear Bag Store.
I was dubious. It didn’t look like hiking equipment. But then, it wasn’t like we were in the Outback for weeks surviving on our wits. And the Large Backpack was sturdy, made from really tough PVC plastic, waterproof and well-made. We took it on a test run, and I had to admit: my wife was right. It made everything better.
Because now when the kids wanted an apple or a bag of peanuts, I just paused for a sip from my canteen and they could be in and out of the backpack in moments. They could see exactly where everything was back there, open up precisely the right compartment, and grab it. Now our hikes are just slightly better because of my wife’s genius.
I keep telling her that I’m watching the oldest boy carefully, measuring him up, and the moment I think he’s big enough (eight or nine years old, I think) he’s going to be our Turtle. There will be a solemn manhood ceremony, and the Large Clear Backpack will be handed from father to son, and then Dad’s taking a nap.