Sunday, April 1, 2012

lessons learned : or not, as the case may be

I have learned many lessons in my time in the SCA, but it seems that, no matter how many times the same lesson about weather presents itself, it never really sinks in.  I hope that after yesterday, however, that it finally will.

We'd been avoiding taking all four of our kids to an event (all four at once for the first time, that is), but yesterday's somewhat local event made sense as the first opportunity to do so.  The weather forecast predicted a chance of rain, but it also predicted a high of 61 degrees and dissipating clouds.  The fact that a storm system blew through the area the previous evening somehow didn't register with us that the prediction of a fair day might have changed.  Even the foggy, damp morning at home failed to capture our attention as we hustled to get the kids dressed and the rest of our stuff into the cars.  As we drove north through misty rain, it somehow didn't register that it may be cooler, wetter and generally less comfortable than we had planned for.

We were all, every one of us, wearing two layers AT MOST, and only my daughter was wearing wool.  No hats, no gloves, and my 3 month old baby wasn't even wearing socks (and he kept kicking his shoes off at home, so I didn't even bother with them). After only a few hours there, realizing rather quickly that we did not have enough blankets and everyone was miserably cold, I ventured out to the store to purchase two large fluff blankets.  Everyone's nose were red, everyone's hands were like ice cubes, and the incessant cold wind penetrated even the new blankets.  By 2 o'clock, I felt guilty for having ignored the signs and for rushing my dressing of the kids so that they were left essentially exposed to the weather- primed and ready to get sick because of it.

A similar experience happened when I still had one child.  We went to an event and he was extremely under-dressed for the biting, constant, cold wind offered that day.  He was miserably uncomfortable, and completely at the mercy of the weather.  I thought I'd learned the lesson then.

After my twins were born, we went to a small event with them and my son, and were met with a drizzly, cold dank day that even offered spurts of chilling downpours.  The twins had no choice but to snuggle together in their playpen under every blanket, cloak and tablecloth we could muster.

And after each of these incidents (and others in between), I told myself that I wouldn't let it happen again, and that I'd plan better in the future.  So today I sit here and ask myself- when will I finally get it?  Why do I also seem to be "learning" this lesson?  I think it has something to do with that rush to get out the door, and the anticipation of spending a day at an event.  We get so caught up in the act of packing and going, that we fail to recognize that there is more to enjoying an event that just being there, and it's worthless to prepare for all the other contingencies if you fail to account for the one you can't control- the weather.

It's difficult enough as it is to bring young children to an event.  Events offer a very different atmosphere that the usual boundaries of home, and a whole different set of rules that have been untested (and in some cases unestablished by the parent before hand).  Add to that, however, a level of physical discomfort, and it's a recipe that spells danger for my hope that all my kids will love being in a medieval group when they are older.  The bottom line is that events like yesterday don't necessarily leave good impressions.

So here's what I've decided: 1. I will work into my project list new sets of layered garb for all 4 children that include a flannel wool top layer and hats, hoods or other appropriate headdress.  2. We will not leave the house for the event without first checking the weather again that morning for the event site AND without stepping outside to determine for ourselves the coolness we can expect at least for the morning hours. 3. We will be sure to pack at least one heavy blanket per child if the weather is expected to be below 65 degrees. We will pack at least one light blanket per child for anything warmer than that.

We'll see if the lesson finally sinks in.

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