Detecting with Rugrats

  • April 14, 2015

11096472_1621589381410176_6316175346851792938_nThese past few weeks, I haven’t been able to recruit any relatives to watch my kids. (For those of you who don’t know, I have a eighteen-month-old daughter and a four-year-old son.) And let’s face it, unless I’m plucking diamond rings off the beach or gold nuggets from the creek, I can’t afford the going rate of a babysitter. Last I checked, South Central PA doesn’t have very many beaches or gold deposits. So–being the compulsive digger that I am–I opted to strap the little one to my back and buy a dog harness for the other one. (Hah! Just kidding, though the thought had crossed my mind once or twice.)

For the past three weeks, I’ve been dragging the kids along on my metal detecting adventures. We’ve visited the nearby state park, two playgrounds, two private homes, and a local picnicking spot from the early 1800s. The trick to detecting with the kids is finding a location that poses no danger. This is no easy task. A lot of my best permissions are overgrown with brambles and thorns, riddled with groundhog holes, and have a nearby creek of some degree.

I think the creek part scares me the most, because both my kids are obsessed with water–which is really odd because I’m afraid of the water. My son usually enjoys throwing rocks in the creek, but sometimes gets a little close for comfort and the prospect of jumping in after him is terrifying. Just last weekend while I was digging a plug, the littlest one found herself a stagnant puddle to stomp in and soak her feet.

Location is just the beginning, of course. Once I have a location that is safe and mostly not-boring, the production begins. There are PB&J sandwiches to be made, squeezy yogurts and spicy cheese crackers to be packed, toys to be rounded up, and beverages to be mixed with the correct juice to water ratio. Taking the kids along is always an undertaking, but nothing is worst than being unprepared for the inevitable “I’m hungry” or “I’m bored.”

Graphite Backpack Hi keltypackFor the littlest one, I use the Kelty Child Carrier – Meadow but I also have the Chicco Smart Support Backpack as a backup. Kelty child carriers are a bit expensive. Fortnuately, someone from church gave me theirs for free. The Chicco Smart Support Backpack I purchased on ebay for $50 with $12.95 shipping–not bad. Of the two, I prefer the Kelty. They both work fine, but her feet are able to dangle freely in the Kelty. In the Chicco, her feet straddle me on either side. This was a bit awkward and I’m not sure that she was comfortable. I will say that the Chicco has more padding and that feels nice against my back. But with either carrier, you need practice putting it on and taking it off. You’ll also need to practice bending at the knees with the added weight before you get your first signal. I’ll tell you right now, its a workout.

Detecting with the kids in tow is NOT easy, its a real test of love–both for metal detecting and the little bompsters. It takes a whole lot of patience and a balance between engaging the kids and feeding your obsession. You need to be able to multitask, because if you are in the middle of digging an awesome hit and the four-year-old wants to show you some weird looking bug… you need to decide whether you’re going to keep digging or check out that bug–and meanwhile your eighteen-month-old is eating a handful of pine needles.

It can be done, but it takes a certain mindset. I still sometimes get discouraged when I have to drag them along on my dig-time. My dig-time has always been my quiet time and I had been lucky in the past to have my mother-in-law watch the kids every Sunday. Now, I just have to keep reminding myself that we are making memories. Twenty years from now, the kids will reflect on the days when Mom would bring them metal detecting. I’ve come to realize that I need to enjoy this time while I have it, because pretty soon they’re going to be too busy for Mom.