My son, whose online nickname is Kung Fu Panda (KFP for short), will be participating in the John Morton Winter Survival event in Westinghouse Grove. This is an annual event focused on winter survival skills, and the Cub Scouts, like KFP, will only participate in the afternoon events, which include an obstacle course, fire building, a compass course, lifesaving, a knot-tying relay, a stretcher race, flag raising, and a final "surprise skill." Those who participate receive a special badge they can sew onto their uniforms.
Since finding out about the event on Monday, I have been steadily gathering materials and planning. I ordered a compass from the Boy Scout online shop, which arrived today. I bought myself a short winter coat, so that I could follow him into forest or across a stream without getting my long coat caught on briars or soaked with creek water. Today, I will do laundry to ensure he has a selection of proper clothing from which to choose, and I also bought him a pair of polyester thermals (which do better in wet conditions than cotton).
While the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared," it could just as soon be the Mommy Motto, as well.
Tomorrow morning, he need only worry about waking up and putting on the clothing I've prepared for him. I, on the other hand, am laying out two extra sets of little boy clothes: one to carry with me and one to leave in the car, just in case. Inside my backpack will go one set of spare clothes, sufficient snacks to fend off any snack attacks, along with Band-Aids, tissues, and wipes. I'll also be toting my camera, my phone, and a spare recharger. The usual.
Starting on the day I brought him home from the hospital, I've tried to anticipate KFP's needs, packing a giant bag for every outing. Now that diapering supplies are no longer necessary, I have traded in my big green diaper bag for an off-white bag with groovy multicolored flowers that is, nevertheless, very much a Mommy bag. While I am not as over-prepared as some, I've usually crammed into that bag just about anything that my little boy could end up needing.
As helpful as it may be to have the proper diapers, changing pads, toys, snacks, formula, et cetera, to accommodate the usual baby, toddler, or little boy needs, some things don't allow for preparation, such as:
• The first time your child projectile vomits.
• When your child's "best friend" suddenly announces they are no longer friends.
• When your child jumps on the bed, falls off, and hits his head on the end table, producing a huge red bump.
• The day your child plays "hide and seek" in the clothes rack, and you can't find him for several seconds, getting a terrible sinking feeling in your stomach.
• The moment you're rearranging items under the stroller, and he's suddenly toddling toward the public swimming pool on unsteady legs.
• The last minutes of his first plane ride, on the descent, when he suddenly vomits up all of his stomach's contents.
• When he decides he no longer likes his favorite snack, and nothing in your bag will suit him or quiet his crying.
As he's gotten older, the surprises haven't stopped coming; they are simply different. Like they told us in our "Baby and You" prenatal class so long ago, everything's a stage. The boy who once cried when his bus buddy was late to the stop now gets on without a whimper if his current bus buddy doesn't show. The boy who once brought me book after book to read (over and over) now reads chapter books to himself.
In a way, it's bittersweet, but in a way it's also a relief. I'm delighted with each new stage, rediscovering the world through his eyes. I love the cheerful, friendly, funny, outgoing guy he's become.
I would like it though, if the next stage will involve less vomiting.