Amy Roberts: Toddler or tempest preparation | ParkRecord.com

Amy Roberts: Toddler or tempest preparation

Red Card Roberts

By Amy Roberts
Park Record columnist 

Short of boarding up windows, preparing for my family to visit is remarkably similar to preparing for a hurricane. I fill the car with gas, load up on food and call my insurance company to verify what my policy covers.

In a few weeks, my sister, mom and niece will be visiting, and I've come to realize there's quite a bit of effort that goes into itinerary planning when a toddler is involved.

She's been here before, but she wasn't even a year old then. Entertaining her consisted of knowing how to play peekaboo. Things are different now that she is nearly 3. She has a personality, likes, dislikes, curiosity and the potential for a public meltdown.

In the two years between her last visit and this one, I've seen her a number of times. Typically on her own turf in Omaha, Nebraska. We've vacationed together in some great destinations as well. But I had the easy job of just booking a flight. I certainly didn't have to pack or plan for a week with a toddler, which — I'm learning — is where the real fun begins.

I scanned my kitchen for something to show her. That’s when I realized we are entertained by vastly different items.

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My sister, Michele, has instructed me to pick up a car seat and have it professionally installed, because doing so is actually quite a bit cheaper and less stressful than traveling with one and installing it in the passenger pickup lane at the airport. The grocery list has consisted of things I've never heard of, nor dreamed I'd ever buy. "Do you have macaroni and cheese shaped like a bunny?" is also something I never thought I'd ask a cashier.

That's not even the worst part. A few days ago, I FaceTimed with Addison. Our conversations typically consist of a few minutes of a "show me…" game. She wants me to show her my dogs or my yard or some random fixture in my house. It's fairly easy to win this game. Except last week I lost. During our conversation, I reminded her she's coming to visit me soon. "Show me your toy box," she requested.

I briefly panicked. Toys? I scanned my kitchen for something to show her. That's when I realized we are entertained by vastly different items. A coffee pot, bottle of wine and a People Magazine were all I had to show, and frankly, all I need to consider it a successful weekend.

"I don't have a toy box," I confessed. The look on Addison's crestfallen face was so pitiful I quickly followed with, "But when you get here, we'll go to the toy store and I'll buy you everything you want!"

Which resulted in that conversation being followed with a text to my sister that read, "Bring an empty suitcase."

Michele informed me it was best to have some items already on hand and sent me helpful suggestions like:

—Stickers (which will end up all over your walls).
—Markers and crayons (also likely to end up on your walls).
—Books.
—Puppets.
—Minnie Mouse anything.
—Puzzles.
—Card games (she likes to find matching sets).
—A few dolls.
—Stuffed animals.
—Bubbles.

Mind you, this is my list prior to their arrival. There's still a stop at a toy store planned. And they're only staying for five days. I found the whole thing overwhelming and a bit ridiculous. The whole point of her visit is to do things here she can't do in the Midwest.

I thought about the activities I am planning for Addison's stay: a hike to an alpine lake, a picnic lunch, a concert at Deer Valley, a chairlift ride and zip line at Park City Mountain Resort and a bike ride to the Silly Market.

As such, I have decided I will buy a toy box. And here's what I'm filling it with:

—Bug spray.
—A bike helmet.
—A toddler CamelBak.
—A hammock.
—A camping chair.
—A life jacket.
—Band-Aids .
—Sunblock .

Maybe I forget how lucky I am to call Park City home. But my list seems far more enticing. And a far better way for a kid to spend the summer.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.