The kids are getting bigger and more independent, as 4-1/2 year olds are prone to do, which is great for a whole lotta reasons. But there is one reason in particular about the kids getting bigger that excites me most of all – the opportunity for adventure!! Babies are cute and cuddly and all of that fluffy stuff which is why we love them so much, of course. Toddlers are funny and fun and challenging in their own special way. I love all of the different phases of early childhood for various reasons. But I can’t wait until the kids get old enough to really do things – toss the ball in the yard, climb a tree, row a kayak, swing on a rope swing and let go over a crisp, cool lake on a hot summer day – those are the adventures I am ready to discover with my kids! Eliot has been in adventure mode with me for awhile, but the little ones are just now beginning to touch their toes into those unknown waters…and I am ready!!
So we found ourselves on a little adventure – just me and Casey, Jack, Brooklyn, and Ryan. Eliot, Britton, and Lila are spending the week at the grandparents’ places so it was just the 5 of us…an almost normal-sized family for once. Summer is in full swing here in Texas with upper 90 degree highs the standard for the day and that means that you must find water if you are to be outside for any length of time. And that is just what we did – headed off to the creek for some fun and, of course, adventure!
Our chosen destination was Bull Creek and it is awesome! It’s about 10 miles away from downtown and the water is always cool. There are huge areas where the water is ankle deep and there are other spots where it is over your head, but it is always clear as can be. The creek runs through some limestone cliffs and cedar-choked hill country and is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Austin. Oh, and dogs are allowed so we took Lilly along with us. The kids had a blast swimming, hiking, and spotting sunfish and other creatures along the creek bed. One creature in particular really got our attention though – crawdads!
Have you ever heard of a crawdad? You might know them as crawfish or crayfish – they look exactly like lobsters, but they are little, about the length of a credit card or maybe a pen. You can find them in the creeks and rivers around Texas and other southern states, usually hiding in the mud or under a rock. I remember spending a good bit of time in my youth combing the creeks around our house for those little mud bugs…good times for a little boy on the loose!
Back to the story! Like I said, Bull Creek is crystal clear and we’re walking along when all of a sudden, Jack yells out, “Look! A lobster!” I got there first, just in time to see the “lobster” right before it scuttled under a rock and out of view. It was a crawdad, for sure, but I couldn’t get him to come out of his hiding place for everyone else to see. So I gave the kids a little lesson about what Jack saw – a crawdad, not a lobster, but it looks just like a lobster and they live in the creek so be on the lookout for more – and off we went again. So we’re on the move once more, everyone keeping their eye out for crawdads when I see one and this time it’s out in the open, walking along the floor of the creek. So I called everyone over, keeping Lilly under control by my side so she wouldn’t scare off our little friend. “Look everyone – it’s another crawdad, just like what Jack saw!”
And that’s when something happened, or rather, when something was said. And I knew in that moment that Jack and I had officially entered another phase of our relationship……………..
“The one I found was BIGGER than the one you found, Daddy!,” Jack said proudly.
Huh. Oh, really, Jack? You measured the crawdads, did you? You, my little Rainman wannabe, knew in an instant of seeing two different crawdads from 15 feet away that the crawdad you saw was bigger than the one I saw and, even if this were the case, you believe this is something that is worth pointing out to the entire group there assembled? So that’s how it’s gonna be, huh? Didn’t realize we were competing or that we were on that level now, but I guess I was wrong. Ok, yours was bigger…I’ll let you have this one, it’s cool…….noooooo problem……
Alright, I’m a big boy, too and two can play at this game. I’m in, I’m ready………and I can’t wait!! Let the games begin!
I love you, Jack-Jack, and I am excited about all of the adventures and, of course, competitions (friendly, loving, teaching, learning, growing, big, and small) that are in store for us!!