Life Camp – The First Adventure

My kids are not much unlike their peers in our community: extremely privileged, sheltered, not all that street smart, not always grateful for what they have and all the resources/treats that are just constantly handed to them. The day before, Pnut was whining about going to writing class and an earlier swim practice. Because of all the volunteering Dad was doing for USA Swimming National Championships for the boys’ swim team, he got the opportunity to bring the kids to watch the Finals in person. All Pnut needed to do was swim earlier and wear his team shirt. He didn’t bring the shirt and instead threw a whining fit. Trex was ok but constantly playing video games or watching other people playing video games on YouTube. I gave him a $20 bill for food that he lost, and also forgot his watch phone just as we were pulling up to the swim meet. Both boys could use a lesson in responsibility and appreciation, so I created that lesson for them.

Their mission

  • I needed to bring my car in to the dealership for service anyways, so had the courtesy shuttle drop us off at the library for our starting point. Katie Wheeler happens to be close to Target and the Irvine Marketplace food court, where I knew they could eat and buy me my box of spring mix. And I knew it was also close to a bus stop (though I couldn’t quite remember where I had seen it). Katie Wheeler was less than 2 miles away from home so if for some reason they decided to skip the bus and walk home, we could.

    What happened next was pure entertainment and joy for me. I printed out a few pages of the bus schedule booklet for the kids, along with a map of where we were and needed to go. I allowed the kids to ask me as many questions before we arrived at the library, but as soon as I arrived at the library I told them I would be a dead weight and they would need to use everyone else around them as a resource because I wouldn’t be able to help them. I just got to follow them around and chronicle how they handled themselves.

    How it went down

    10:45am – Arrived at Katie Wheeler. Thanks Mr. Toyota Courtesy Shuttle driver!

    11:00am – Checking out some books at the library. One Unwanteds book for Trex, 7 Branches books for me (Pnut). We had a book borrowing fine. Trex wanted me to pay with my credit card. Nope, sorry I was dead weight remember? It was 25 cents. I told him to see how else he could pay. He didn’t want to but reluctantly asked the librarian. And paid for it. Yes!

    11:05am – Trex asked the librarian if there was a bus. (There was; I checked while I was in the bathroom.) The librarian didn’t know. She said he could call his mom. I guess they don’t often get these kinds of requests! He came back discouraged, tried to quit the adventure, saying “Do we really have to do this??” and decides we need to just walk home. I drop him a hint and tell him there is a bus we can take.

    11:07am – We leave the library. Trex is carrying his 500 page book and my 7 hardbound easy chapter books. Pnut? He’s carrying his wallet and candy in a backpack, and his writing class book bag.

    11:15am – Partly because I didn’t want to walk the 2 miles home, I dropped a hint and directed them to the bus stop sign across the street. When we arrive at the bus stop, Trex figured out from his bus schedule that we could use this bus stop to get home. Decided to go get food at the food court and buy the box of salad at Target first before going back to the bus stop and going home. We probably could’ve saved time by going to the Albertsons plaza bus stop closer to home, but this was fine too.

    11:25am – Sat down at the Marketplace food court. First, Trex decided to go to Target to get my box of salad, then decided (i.e. came to his senses) and get food since he was already there. Trex checked his wallet and discovered he only had one $2 bill. LOL. Thankfully Pnut had a bunch of money in his wallet.

    11:37am – They came back with two 2 item combos from Panda Express. Nice work guys!

    12:07pm – Walked to Target and found my spring mix. I ran into another mom friend and was chatting while they stood at the checkout and when the lady repeated that they owed $8.98 they looked at me to pay. Nope! So funny how little things like being ready with your money was consistently missed here. They we’re totally unprepared every time they needed to pay. Cashier had to say it again and there were plenty of people behind us in line probably a little perturbed, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. $8.98 people!

    12:20pm – Left Target. Two tasks completed! On to the bus stop 5 minutes away. Trex’s got his hands full

    12:24pm – Regrouping break in the shade at the BofA corner half way to the bus stop. “We have time. Bus should be here around 12:45pm.” Yeah, because buses are always on time, said nobody ever.

    12:28pm – Up and walking again to the bus stop. So sunny and hot. Even I was ready to be done but I kept it to myself.

    12:30pm – Trex ran into the street to grab the Target receipt that flew off the top of his salad box. I about had a heart attack. What’s wrong with putting everything in one of the many bags you have?? Trex insisted he’d rather carry it all in his hands even though he’d dropped everything about ten times already.

    12:32pm – arrived at bus stop. Kids were smart enough to find a shady spot. Thank you!

    12:40pm – Bus arrived. On time after all!

    12:42pm – Two minutes to get on the bus and pay the money, and sit down. Another example of not being ready. But the bus driver actually just patiently waited for us. Took me all my might not to say “HURRY UP ALREADY!!!!!”

    Where do we get off? They are singing “Purple Stew“. Are they paying attention?

    Woops, there goes the Culver/Irvine Blvd. bus stop. He didn’t pull the cable, and I forgot that this was what he was supposed to do. Luckily another bus passenger pulled the cable for the next stop, which was still close to home.

    12:47pm – Hopped off the bus at Yale and Irvine Blvd. Thanks Mr. Bus Driver!

    12:55pm – Took a break at a bench 10 minutes from home because Pnut was too hot.

    1:05pm – Pnut whining to go home. At first he didn’t want to keep walking. Then did, really badly. Trex decided to start reading a book. Typical Trex.

    1:30pm – Mission accomplished, home. Only took us three hours to go 2 miles.

    Some notable quotes

    “My legs are tired. I’m not tired but my legs are.” – Pnut after walking from Katie Wheeler to the Marketplace food court. About 1/4 mile.

    “When I get home I’m going to restock my wallet!”- Trex after realizing he only had $2.

    “I really miss our car right now.”- Trex, numerous times.

    “I’m really tired too Pnut but we just need to keep going! Almost there!”- Trex, while Pnut was whining. Power of positivity!

    “Unlimited Otter Pops for all when we get home!”- Trex trying to keep our spirits up.

    “No… more… walking…” Pnut, when we are less than 2 minutes from home.

    How I cheated

    • He left Dad’s sun hat at the library. I told him I didn’t want to leave without the hat. It would’ve been left behind.
    • I saw the bus stop and pointed out the sign. “Hey guys, what’s that over there?” I didn’t want to walk home.
    • I told Pnut he had a lot more capabilities than he was using. Poor Trex was carrying everything.
    • I helped with the time table because the bus stop we found wasn’t on the printed schedule.
    • Trex started walking into the street near the food court/Target plaza and I shouted “I’m scared! I don’t want to get hit by a car!” Thankfully he found the sidewalk.
    • Trex pulled out all of Pnut’s money from his wallet, including a $50 bill. I said “I hope no one sees you and decides to steal that!” To which Pnut responds “Trex! Why’d you take out all my money!!!”
    • I watched their bags for them while they bought their food.
    • Two leftover Panda Express bags being carried like books on their sides. I couldn’t let it seep and spill and said “Are those supposed to be carried like that?” Trex spilled it anyways when we were about 200 feet from home.

    Some takeaways

    • I cheated more than I should have. It was harder than I expected not to say more and just let the kids learn.
    • Boys, use crosswalks!
    • Boys, say hello to everyone you encounter. They will be more helpful if you do! And brighten their day.
    • Trex, lose the receipt. Don’t run into the street to chase a piece of paper. Some things aren’t worth keeping.
    • Trex and Pnut, keep your hands free. Doesn’t make sense to have two hands holding on to something you aren’t using when you could stick it in your bag.
    • Pnut, help some more. Don’t give up just because your bag contents are tipping over or because you’re getting tired.
    • Trex, ask for more help.
    • Trex, not everyone is going to have answers. You might have to ask more than one person.
    • Pnut, you can’t just rely on Trex to know or do everything. He doesn’t know all the answers. When he was asking the librarian you just stood there standing by the books. Books are so much easier to carry in a bag!
    • Trex, you can ask Pnut to help you more instead of just being mad that he isn’t helping you. Be specific about how you want him to help you. Can you carry some of these books? Can you come with me to talk to the librarian?

    Next time…

    I think they are ready to go a little further away. Maybe buy a bus pass.

    Keep my mouth shut.

    Get a printed map from my local AAA.

    Get a bus schedule booklet.

    Start earlier, or go on a day that’s not so dang hot.


    It was an amazing experience for me, watching these kids, and I think Trex was super proud of himself for being able to accomplish the mission all on his own. I’m super proud of my babies. It proved to me that I really don’t need to nor should I shelter them. Can’t wait until the next time… when it’s cooler outside.


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