Little Bear and Papa Bear have an adventure

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Wherein adventure means that things did not go as intended.

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Until this past weekend LB had gone his entire life without spending a night apart from his mama.  The fervent complication that is making sure an infant takes care of itself took me enough by surprise that all sorts of ambitions came and went while he was small enough to easily carry.  Now he is two and able to walk and run and ride, but not far.  His stamina eclipses his attention and need for exploration, so I don’t wear enough clothes and get cold while we take 2 hours to ride 2 miles.  But the Firehole River has quite a few more rocks at the bottom for it.

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Setting up camp went well.  Bike riding, even through snow and in an 18 degree wind chill, went well.  Dinner at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge went very well, judged by keeping Mr. Bear focused on eating and from rolling on the floor, though less well if you care for any sort of authenticity in one’s French Onion soup.  What did not go well was our Klymit Double V (a brand new warranty replacement) going mostly flat by 1am.  Just in time for LB to roll over in his sleep, groan, and vibrate along his spine as he had a huge poop.  He woke up crying “diaper change” and while we were both grateful to have a heated bathroom nearby, we were even more grateful to find a room in West Yellowstone at 145am.  We ate Cheetos and read books for a couple hours until I could not longer keep my eyes open, and he must have followed shortly thereafter.

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We like to congratulate ourselves on how accustomed Little Bear has become to being outside, to how well he walks and rides his bike.  And he does, but his fear at going to sleep in the snow and cold for the first time in over a year was the equal of my own.  For the first 18 months my fear had mostly to do with keeping him safe, warm, and well fed, things whose complications were shed fairly quickly.  Today, at a few months past two, my fear has spread out from the center in all directions.  Safety is still a concern, as just the other day LB had his first endo, stuffing his front wheel into a leaf-covered hole in front of the state capitol and going over the bars with full commitment.  The bruise he still has in his crotch is impressive, and has me recalling the several bones I’ve broken crashing a mountain bike.  The bigger fear by far is that my wants will clash with his needs causing his long term development and both of our short terms happinesses to come up short.

He can no longer just go for a four hour hike, with only a good wiggle break in the middle.  He still enjoys a ride in the backpack, for both the better view and the fast developing adult-esque laziness.  But his need to explore on his own terms develops daily, and now he needs to throw rocks into both sides of the creek, as well as go up and down the steep safe banks all on his own.  Parenting has, in short and not unexpectedly, become more complicated in every respect.  Of all the many things in the world which need to understood first hand, this is one of the big ones.

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