JUNEAU -- I knew I'd hit a new low in parenting when I tried to convince my kids that we should stay home and watch cartoons instead of going on a previously planned tidepooling excursion in nature last weekend.
That Saturday evening, another mom and I made a wholesome plan for some good clean fun: We would take our kids to the beach to catch the 8 a.m. "minus tide," a very low tide that periodically reveals diverse sea life and land features not usually visible in regular low tide.
But Sunday morning delivered 36 degrees and torrential rain, along with a text from my friend -- a born and raised Juneau girl -- that asked hopefully, "How much rain do you think is too much?" You tell me, I thought, and please, God, let this be it.
We texted back and forth for a while, each of us afraid to admit to the other that we simply couldn't deal. We wanted to bail. We wanted to go back to sleep and park our kids in front of the television, where mine had already been stationed since 6 a.m.
I presented the amended plan to Paige, positive that she would be thrilled to continue watching "Monster High" all morning. To my surprise, she objected, although in retrospect, I should have guessed that she would: For every time I want to do something, Paige lobbies for the exact opposite, even if it's her favorite thing in the whole wide world: gluing herself to the couch for that coveted and fetishized ritual known as weekend morning screen time.
"NOOOOO!!!" she protested, and began to whimper that it would be "forever" (also known as a month or two) until another minus tide; that she had been looking forward to this for her "entire life" (also known as the 16 hours since she heard about it); and that it was "barely even raining at all" (also known as pouring). I was informed by text that my friend's older daughter had the same reaction.
Fortunately, Isaac was on my side and wanted to stay home. I told Paige that if she could get her brother and herself all geared up in 20 minutes, we could go. I felt like the evil sea witch Ursula in "The Little Mermaid," setting out an impossible task that I knew would culminate in me getting my way.
But I grossly underestimated Paige's firm resolve to see that I didn't.
Both kids were ready in record time, and before I knew it, I was piloting our car northward with one hand on the steering wheel, the other on a giant mug of coffee, and my sphincter valiantly fighting to contain a crap that somehow wound up prioritizing marine observation over my treasured, leisurely weekend morning bathroom session with The New Yorker magazine.
I must say it was worth it, even the suppressed crap part.
Well, at least it was worth it after the rain went from sideways to just regular, and once I got over the nagging neuroses that we were going to get stuck on an island across the channel and have to wade back to shore, neck-deep in 33-degree seawater before drowning 50 feet from the beach.
All sorts of creatures
There were sea stars, urchins, anemones and all other sorts of creatures that I could now view on relatively dry land in their natural habitat, rather than while diving in the ocean.
We ran into several other families, including one of my friends who is a real-life marine biologist and once hosted a seal release party (not to celebrate the dropping of Seal's new album, but to literally release a rescued seal back into the wild). My kids were enthralled and super psyched, and I was psyched that they were getting to experience nature "in their own backyard" before the whole planet is so polluted that the only things you find in tidepools anymore are used condoms and empty bags of Cool Ranch Doritos.
Not one to miss an opportunity for familial one-upmanship, Paige gloated to both me and Isaac that she told us this would be fun. Three hours later, I was back home taking a nap while my kids finally watched the cartoons they had so wisely delayed to catch the minus tide.
And at that point, I had to admit that Paige had been right all along.
Libby Bakalar is a Juneau freelance writer and author of the popular blog One Hot Mess, from which this column is taken.