I had never considered that a teddy bears picnic would be something I would be involved in with the boys. The other day, however, it surfaced that the two teddies, Hottie and Licorice Bone, were having a birthday.
It was unclear exactly how old they were turning. Somewhere between five and nine, depending on who was telling the story, and when they were telling it. Still, it was definitely a birthday for both of them. We were having a day at home with no clear plans and two slightly bored children who were prepared to take this idea as far as they had to. The best thing to do seemed to be to go with it, and turn it into an organised event before it overran the house.
Of course, birthdays need cakes, so we rounded the boys up, and got them making cupcakes. All kids seem to love baking, and for good reason. Also, all homeschooling families seem to seem to equate it as a lesson, rather than a household requirement. Far be it from me to disagree with this opinion.
With our cakes as the centerpiece of our picnic, we headed of to one of the local headlands to enjoy it. After a short walk, we found ourselves in a very beautiful place which was partly sheltered by the wind. To one side of us was a large and disinterested mob of kangaroos. Out near the horizon, we could see migrating whales swimming past on their way to the tropics.
We had some candles, but it was too windy to light them. We stuck them in some cakes anyway while we sang happy birthday. The teddys themselves were used as cushions against the grass, which the boys said was too spiky. We were assured that the teddys did not mind this, and liked to help.
After we finished, my wife looked after our stuff while she sat and studied. The boys and I went exploring. The obvious place to go was the furthest end of the headland, where there are lots of places to climb up and hide in. The path out to the rocks is often steep, narrow and slippery. After a while, it disappears altogether. There are plenty of long jagged drops onto the rocks below which are constantly being swept by the surf. The waves make that distinctive sucking, hollow booming sound, as well as slightly disorienting constantly swirling patterns. Being on the headland means that there was a gusting wind always swatting at us.
If I was by myself, I wouldn’t mind so much, but it really set my teeth on edge to see my three and six year olds running and jumping all over the place like they were in some kind of magic playground. I had to tell myself that that I cannot simultaneously want them to learn independence and hold them back at the same time. I masked my apprehensions and cheered them on.
Once I realised that, I had a little space to see that we really were in a magical playground, and that it should be expected that they don’t do anything less than run and jump and climb and hide in all of it. It also gave me the opportunity to see that, for all their excitement and enthusiasm, they were actually being safe and careful in where they chose to go. It gives me more confidence in them to see this.
Eventually, the game ran out. We went and found my wife and started to head back to the car. I was surprised to stumble on a piece of local history here. This is something we typically struggle with.
There are two graves tucked into the front line of sand dunes. Outside of the signs, the only thing to mark them is a rough outline of stones from the beach, and a pair of small headstones which are obviously much younger than the graves themselves.
The signs tell us that in December 1886, two steamships ran into each other just off the coast here. Both ships were torn in half and sank in a few minutes. Forty eight people were killed, and two of them were washed up here, being buried where they were found. A newspaper account of the time is printed on the sign, telling the story. As you can see, one of the graves is now home to a fairly sizable blue tongue lizard.
That was pretty much the end of our teddy bears picnic. It lacked the ribbons, miniature tea set, and red and white chequered cloth that so often seem to go with this sort of thing. Still, at least I can say we have had one.