xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: Steam Trains

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Steam Trains

Up in the mountain-ey area of Berkeley is a place called Tilden Park, which contains lots of fun stuff for kids: a mini little zoo, lots of playgrounds, lots of hiking and camping spots, a merry-go-round and steam trains.

The steam trains are these sweet little open wooden cars that are pulled by a steam engine and you ride in the cars while the engine takes you around this track in this mountain-ey area, through trees and around turns and through a tunnel, etc. There are some cool views of the city below and it goes without saying that kids love it.

We've been going to the steam trains since Child 1 was a toddler. For a while we would go every weekend; it depends on the weather, really. The trains don't run when it's raining and it gets really cold up there, but we've been to the trains in various stages of my childrens' development. Me, hugely pregnant with Child 2, clamoring in and out of these rickety wooden cars, with a very small Child 1 who needed to be picked up and put into the car. An older Child 1 trying to grab every tree branch that passed by us and a toddler Child 2, who always stood up at the worst times and had to be pulled back down into his seat. An older, again, Child 1, who could climb in and out of the car on his own while a preschool aged Child 2 narrated the entire journey through the mountains.

We went this weekend; it had been a while since we'd been there, at least a year. They could both get in and out of the car by themselves, and they both knew to sit still and keep their hands inside. As we rode through the trees I remembered how I would always be amazed at how the sweet peas came back again and again every year, growing wild on the hills, when it was always so hard for me to grow them at home. And I remembered how I used to clutch whichever child was sitting next to me, because if I didn't have at least one hand on them, I was convinced that they would magically be whisked out of their seats and down the huge mountainside; plummeting to their death.

Nobody needed clutching this time, though. They're older and they can keep themselves inside the cars; they didn't need my Magical Mom Grasp to stay alive. It was bittersweet, that feeling. My babies aren't my babies anymore; they're growing up. They still need their Mama, of course, but eventually they'll go out into their world on their own and I have to hope that we've done a good enough job so that they can make their way.

I think we're doing pretty good so far, actually; these are great little people we've got here, but... I miss my babies. I miss their fuzzy heads and their pudgy arms and thighs and how all I had to do was pick them up and they would immediately feel better about whatever it was.  It's funny that that's what parenting is: raising them well enough so that one day they will leave you. I'll miss them even more when that day comes, I'm sure.