Friday, June 10, 2011

Marching up hill

Our backpacks were heavy, packed with food, linens, and clothes. Everyone had to carry something, even the kids. This always led to some whining, and sometimes tears.

We would get them singing or chanting as we walked up to The West Point Inn to keep their minds off the fact their packs were heavy .

"Left. Left. Left, right, left. I left-my-wife-and-42-kids-on-the-verge-of-starvation-with-nothing-but-gingerbread-left. Left. Left, right, left." we repeated together.

"Mom, why would the dude leave his wife without any food?" Elli asked.

"Elli it's just a chant to march to. It's not true." I replied, and kept chanting.

"Left. Left. Left right left....."

"Do you think it's responsible to have 42 kids? I think it's really irresponsible." Elli stated with some authority.

"Well, yes, it does seem like a lot of kids. But it's just a chant. It's not real, don't worry about it." I said, feeling tired and sweaty.

"And why gingerbread? Don't you think he should have left something healthier? she asked.

"Elli. Just chant." I replied, walking along beside her, the rocks crunching under our feet to the beat.

"But why did he leave?" she asked again."Is that what they did in the old fashioned days?"

"I don't know Elli. Maybe he went to get food. If you don't like it then sing something else. Or make up your own chant." I whine back, immediately regretting my tone. She's only eight.

"Mom.....?" she started in again.

"Let's play the quiet game!" I suggest, shifting the pack on my back and wondering to myself how many bottles of wine Don brought.

It's only a mile walk. It's so beautiful looking at San Francisco off in the distance. I really don't want to argue about a stupid chant.

Her head sank. I could see her pink lips pouting, and her sad brown eyes drooping. Her pace got slower. She was now dragging her walking stick behind her, leaving a snail-like trail in the dirt.

Great. Now she's mad at me. My pack suddenly felt heavier.

"Want to sing Miss Mary Mack?" I ask.

"No." she pouted back.

"What about Alice?"


"What about the peanut butter and jelly song you learned at Circus Camp?"

"No. "

"I'm hot." she started whining.

I knew the big tears would be next.

"Ok, Elli. You're right. He should have left them with lots of food. Grain to make bread. Fruits and vegetables. Meats. And he probably should not have had 42 kids. That does seem irresponsible." I said defeated by the greatest 8 year old litigator on this path.

"Yeah........since all he could afford was gingerbread." she whispered, barely moving her lips.

"Can we take a water break?" she asked.

"Yes. But let's make it quick. Everyone is going to feel so much better when we get to the top. I can see the Inn. We're almost there!" I say whining again, enthusiastically.

She took the longest, slowest, sip of water possible. Just to irk me.

And then we hit the last curve on the path.

"Mom!!! We're here. Hurry!!! Let's play horseshoes." she cried out running ahead. The weight on her back lifted as she dropped her backpack in the middle of the path. "Look at the view today. It's so beautiful."

"Elli, pick up your backpack....." I started to plead, and then just picked it up myself.

She came running over to greet us as we reached the top. "Mommy. I love you. This was the best hike ever." and off she ran to look for rocks.

Don and I just smiled and sighed, and then we started laughing.

Today's prompt was to write a scene that includes a happy ending - it doesn't have to be the actual END of your story, if you're working on continuations, but it should include at least one challenge for your hero to overcome. 600 words max. 

And now for some pictures. I couldn't resist sharing the amazing view from the West Point Inn. Click the link to reserve your room at the Inn.

View from Mt. Tamalpais.
Our destination - The West Point Inn.  (Don, Elli and Kris)


  1. There was an article recently. I think it was in the NYTimes. Must have been. Anyway, it likened parenting to being a drug addict. You deal with such horrible shit from children, the DTs, the marching up the hill, trying to sing a f'ing happy marching song, and they wear you down with the questions. And why don't you just quit? Just give them away and join a 12-Step Program? The last paragraph is why. The Happy Ending. The get us over and over again with the "I love you" fix. Or the "Mommy you're the most beautiful mommy in the world." And we're good for another eight hours of booger picking "are we there yets?" Great piece.

  2. how do I follow up the comment from Honest Convo Gal?? Seriously that is exactly the way parenting is!!! LOL

    but when they do the right thing, when they smile or hug, when they run in for the love, well that makes the UPHILL hike a pleasure doesn't it???

    this story made me teary, plus your daughter, is GORGEOUS!

  3. Gotta love conversations with kids...or hate them. I know it's one of those two. Anyway, they sure like to ask questions, don't they? And as annoyed as you may get with them, as mad as they may be at you, they can bounce back just LIKE THAT! Ha!

    Great happy ending. Sometimes simple ones like these are the absolute best.

    Stopping by from TRDC.


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