Outgrowing the Backpack

01/15/2011 By Shawn Burns

I won’t always have a kid I can fit into a backpack. Well, not unless I’m stealing babies from strangers when I’m 50. At some point there will be no kids in the backpack. What is going to happen then?

HappyMommy posed this question on my “Pay me in blog prompts, lurkers” post: “As the kids gets older what are you doing for daddy time outside of the backpack?”

Daddy Time tends to happen, still, on Mondays on Tuesdays. These are non-work days for me, non-daycare days for the kids. All too often these days end up being a shuffle of indoor activities like Mess Up Your Room, Throw A Die-Cast Car At Your Sister’s Head, or Watch DVDs While Daddy Tries To Figure Out Who The Red Wings Are Going To Put In Net Now That Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood Are Both Injured.

We’ve done all the usual Bay Area things on these days as well: Happy Hollow; the San Francisco Zoo; the California Academy of the Sciences; the Aquarium of the Bay; hiking trails in Marin, Point Lobos, off Skyline, and in Napa and Sonoma; parks and playgrounds; U-Me and The Jungle; libraries in Mountain View, San Jose, Menlo Park, and Redwood City; Coyote Point Museum; various and sundry malls.

Having Adrian in the backpack while Erin was responsible enough on her feet to be trusted in all of these environs on her own was a lifesaver. Now that Adrian is getting bigger I have to face the fact that soon I will be outnumbered on foot. I have to reinforce to Erin what is okay and not okay to do while we’re out, so she can move independently while I spend my energies corralling Adrian. And Adrian needs to become comfortable moving in all of these environments on his own, and safely.

So the other day I took the kids hiking and let them both walk. I wasn’t about to take them up into the hills, with its dramatic dropoffs, since Adrian has little respect even for sidewalks at this age; it would be reckless to expect him to stay on a path with dangerous curves. Erin is competent at hill-hiking, and someday Adrian will be as well. But not yet. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start practicing. So we went to Shoreline Lake, a flat area with lots of wetlands and migratory birds. The trails there are wide, and Adrian could learn how to navigate trails safely.

So, that was all a long way of saying that even though the backpack will be outgrown soon I don’t expect the activities to change much. I can handle two kids out of the backpack in all the same environments.

Three kids might be a different story.