A couple of weeks ago Fun Daddy, Lunatic Child and I went to a Dude Ranch. I don't know what we were thinking either. We seem to have taken leave of our senses for as much time as it took us to make the reservations and get there, and then it was TOO LATE. We were stuck at the Dude Ranch for the weekend. And it was Hell.
First of all. Lunatic Child is about 3 years too young for *any* of the 1,001 activities on offer at the Dude Ranch. He couldn't give his left nutmeg that there were horses. He did NOT want to touch the pony. "All Done!!!" He was too little for the pool. Has the attention span of a gnat and eats paint (see previous post) so we couldn't do crafts. I can't even imagine the chaos which would ensue if we took him on a paddle boat. Obviously, organised sports are out. Hiking lasts about 4 seconds. "All Done!!" Can't even say "scavenger hunt" let alone participate in one.
This left us with a lot of time to fill.
In fact, the only thing which Lunatic Child wanted to do all weekend was play with the giant dump truck in the Dude Ranch nursery.
Fun Daddy and I thought to ourselves, if all Lunatic Child wants to do is play with trucks, he could have done that at home, and we would not be having to navigate our way through these hordes of shrieking children to the a la carte buffet, where you could choose from lukewarm chicken nuggets or lukewarm pasta marinara.
The other disaster (yes, there's more!) was that our hotel room was just a single room so we were trying to put Lunatic Child to bed whilst we were in the room with him. This involved hiding in the bathroom for 20 minutes, then having Lunatic Child wail "All Done !" as soon as we cracked open the door. The first night I was BESIDE myself with frustration. I'd been trying to put Lunatic Child down for over an hour. Then, Fun Daddy, who had taken a later train, turned up and got Lunatic Child all hopped up on Fun Daddy shenanigans, after which we had to try and put an over-stimulated, over-tired child to bed. Harried Mum was sulky and angry about this and convinced it was Ruining His Sleep Patterns. However, by the next night, I'd given up, and Lunatic Child went on a moonlight tractor ride to the bonfire, where he listened to a nice cowboy sing "Incy-Wincy Spider" and ate toasted marshmallows until his teeth fell out. He eventually collapsed from total exhaustion around 9:30pm. The Sleep Patterns are fine. Harried Mum is mildly neurotic.
Frankly, even if Lunatic Child had been old enough to enjoy the Dude Ranch, I think Fun Daddy and I still would have found it depressing. A child-friendly Dude Ranch is just not the aspirational holiday of our dreams. I realise having children changes things, but this was just a cold, hard reality check that Harried Mum is not going to be drinking margaritas on the beach at any time in the foreseeable future.
So here's a tip from Harried Mum. Don't waste your money on "child-friendly" holidays (BTW - it cost a PACKET for a crappy weekend away) until your child is actually old enough to speak in complete sentences and is trustworthy around paint.