Yesterday, I promised my two-and-a-half-year-old son H that we would go see the Dutch windmill at the Queen Wilhelmina Garden in Golden Gate Park near Ocean Beach. Somehow, we never quite made it out the door.
So I was determined to make it out today and set a goal of leaving at 10:00 a.m. True to form, H, 7-month-old baby M, and I finally managed to get out the door at about 12:30. Of course, by the time we got to the windmill – a whole 15 minutes away – H was asleep.
H finally woke up around 1:30, so it wasn’t too bad. we ventured in, strolling around the base of the windmill and walking by the flowerbeds.
There isn’t really anything to do with a toddler here, but it is rather pretty, H likes windmills a lot, and two year olds think running aimlessly on a big lawn is a thing.
By sheer luck, we ran into a mom with her two-and-a-half-year-old and ten-month-old daughters. We started chatting as we watched (from a safe distance) a bee “have his lunch” buzzing from tulip to tulip. The two toddlers then decided to chase each other blissfully, as the mom and I swapped stories and reminded each other of the universalities of motherhood, especially with kids of the ages of our little ones.
Feeling energetic, I asked H if he wanted to see the ocean, and he said yes, so we walked out of the park and across the street to Ocean Beach. I did not want to going to the sand or near the water and tried to convince H that we could see the ocean perfectly fine from the top of the stairs. He insisted on tugging me down the stairs. I stopped at the bottom and restated that we would not be going into the sand. He informed me that he was just going to make some footprints and then he took off!
Thankfully, there was a lot of beach between the stairs and the ocean so I caught him and admonished him for running away on the beach. We walked pretty close to the water’s edge when he discovered some tracks that I think were made by strollers and started following them up the beach.
And we made footprints side by side.
It was all so nice and easy and sweet . . . and then he told me he wanted to walk up the hill.
See the tiny white building on the right side of the picture above? That’s The Cliff House, and that’s where he wanted to walk. Not being a crazy person I said “Why don’t we drive up there and then we can walk up around?” Thankfully, he agreed to this sensible compromise. Even more thankfully, he did not seem to notice the street person singing a song that appeared to be primarily made up of swears, who was standing next to the steps we walked up.
Being a toddler, focus is not always something H has, so he didn’t want to get back in the car but tried to walk deeper to the park. He was lured by a circle of hippie-esque folks singing by a tree, accompanied by a guitar. There were a couple of babies and on the whole they didn’t look that disheveled, but I try to avoid groups of strangers singing in forests at 3 in the afternoon.
We drove up to the Cliff House, and he refueled with his uneaten bagel and blueberries from breakfast, which I brilliantly packed, and the cheerios I always have in the diaper bag.
We got out and he obviously wanted to walk down the hill.
If you look closely, you can see the Dutch windmill (and the Murphy windmill in the distance). I felt very happy that I stood my ground on the walking/not walking decision.
I managed to keep him to going down half the hill and we made a loop around the Cliff House – twice.
So thrilled I didn’t have to lift him up to see over the rails.
Somehow we ended up walking down the hill anyway. Something about needing to go to one more “No Parking” sign.
Anyway, when we got to the bottom, we ran into a nice man playing what I think were Conga drums and H, who has a boundless appreciation for street musicians, stopped to watch. The very nice drummer even let H play the drums and showed how to make funny sounds.
We moved on, but only walked about 20 yards more. I somehow convinced H that we did not need to go down the stairs to the beach again and that we probably shouldn’t walk any further because we had to walk back up the hill and I wasn’t going to carry him.
So then we walked up the hill.
Really, really slowly. But we made it – nearly four and a half hours after we left home.