Photo shared by a C&I reader brings back an old vacation memory.

I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, but I remember well dragging my feet on that fateful Florida beach walk.

My parents and I were at the end of a long day on a family vacation, but they wanted to take one last stroll at sunset. I was reaching that unique childhood state of both restlessness and deep fatigue — a condition that usually leads to some level of meltdown. But they were (and still are) the type of parents who consistently met my over-dramatic, childish outbursts with maddening practicality and levity.

So there we were, making way too many footprints in the sand, and I finally reached my bratty limit. It was time to make a scene. Without hesitation, I shouted at their backs, “THIS IS THE WORST MOMENT OF MY LIFE.”

I saw them turn around and really take that statement in, and suddenly, my mother was pulling a camera out of her purse. “Worst moment of your life? We have to get a picture of this.”

I don’t know where that picture lives – this was well before the days of cloud storage and Facebook – but I know my mood improved after the click and the flash. They’d somehow managed to communicate to me, an unreasonable, pea-brained mini-person, that laughter can always improve a situation.

The full picture. Not a happy camper.

That’s what I hope happened in the moments after C&I reader Andrew Murray took the enclosed shot of his 3-year-old daughter, Aislin. I’ll let his letter take it from here:

“My wife and I live in Cody, Wyoming, with our three daughters. This past summer, we were hiking through Yellowstone and stopped for a horseback ride. My middle daughter clearly did not want to go along for the ride.

I am sure every father/parent believes that every picture taken of their son or daughter is of utmost perfection, but I thought this one might be distinct, creative, and entertaining enough to warrant [publication]. I think the mere fact that it could be any little girl living in cowboy/cowgirl country lends itself to a conversation around the dinner table.”

Andrew, you're right. In fact, it could be any child who’s ever felt too overwhelmed to keep up with the travel demands of his or her family. Thanks to that worst-day-of-my-life story, I feel connected to you and your family in this photographed moment. I also know that every hike has its ups and downs.

I can assure you that one day your daughter will look at this picture you took of her temporary misery, and only remember the ups.

Thanks for the letter and photo.

– H

UPDATE: Mom found the Florida pic.

Fatigued in Florida
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