Sunday, January 8, 2023

Back at Yosemite with Zoe



Last year at around this time, we took Zoe to Yosemite for the first time.  She was only 11 months old, just a compact, wide-eyed bundle that we could carry around everywhere.  We took her to the edge of Mirror Lake, up to Badger Pass, and down to the Yosemite Valley.  We even had her lie in the snow to make a snow angel.  She was not exactly predictable at the time, but she wasn't hard to handle either.  Nine times out of ten, any fussing was resolved by unzipping my jacket and unhooking my nursing bra.  Other times, Wes would snuggle her while continuing to hike, or she might cry angrily for a few minutes and then knock out in the carrier on his back for a nap.  None of that was exactly easy, but it was more straightforward than it was this year.

Zoe is now just a few weeks shy of turning two years old, and with that maturity comes with preferences, more complicated needs, desires, and dislikes.  Let's put it this way, we had to pack 7 stuffed animals on this trip (fox, monkey, brown dog, acorn, deer, otter, hamster) and about 8 types of snacks.  Options are her best friend.  Unfortunately though, sometimes she just doesn't have a choice, and those times required a lot of patience and flexibility on our parts.  Refusing to wear the mittens in 30-degree weather required us to reason with her as best as we could, and in the end, she had to learn it the hard way by letting her hands get cold before crying, "Mittens!"  We also had to relax our expectations a lot, because one minute she'd be happily sitting in the sled or walking in the snow and then out of nowhere, she'd be anxiously asking to be picked up and refusing to be put back down.  We had imagined that she'd enjoy the fluffy and pretty snow, but she turned out to have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the stuff.  Throughout the trip, she surprised us over and over with both what she was willing to do and what she was unwilling to do.  We have learned that there is always a way around her finickiness as long as we approach her at her level and get creative with negotiations, and that it's necessary to temporarily let go of our own hopes for an experience and find ways to enjoy things the way they are.  Honestly, as long as she's happy and comfortable, we are.  And it continues to be so cool to see how her world opens up at her will, in her time, on her own accord.  Our job is just to expose her, and then it's her choice how far she wants to take it.