Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I'd love to sit here this morning and tell you how amazing my kids are, and that I never get frustrated, and that the frustration doesn't get the best of me sometimes, but I'm not going to lie to you.  I'm not perfect.  I lose my cool.  I snap. 

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that because I know it just means I'm human.  I also understand that the frustration stems from the desire to have things run smoothly, and to give my boys the best life they can possibly have.

I recently read a blog post from Backcountry Geezer about Kids in the backcountry: Getting them ready, which really helped to remind me of the one thing I truly need more of in my life: Patience.

When we venture off into the woods Aiden, my youngest, is actually the easiest of the bunch.  Once he sees the red pack he knows we're going for a hike.  Even if he doesn't want to get in the pack initially, a hundred yards down the trail, and he'll be ready.  Yes it's an extra 30lbs on my back, but that is better than a cranky toddler that you're basically dragging because he doesn't want to walk anymore.  Robert on the other hand is too big to be carried, so we've got to make some concessions on his behalf.

First, our hikes are limited to less than 5 miles.  I've got years and years of woods hiking experience, so 5 miles is hardly a warm up.  Yet, for little legs, and a 7 year old's attention span, 5 miles is just shy of an eternity.

Second, the hike has to have something interesting.  As adults my wife and I know where to look and how to pay attention to see animals, new plants, or a great view.  Robert's daily life is filled with video games, and cartoons.  Even as a second grader he has been introduced to computer based learning.  So at first glance the woods aren't as captivating as some of the things he sees day-to-day. While on hikes we make sure we are constantly communicating.  Look at this plant, doesn't it look like a ___. Look over there at the ___ walking through the woods.  That way he's learning to watch for interesting things. 

Third, educational challenges.  So many of my friends have a simply atrocious sense of direction.  Even with GPS, and readily accessible online maps, they can't stand where they are and point to where they came from or where they want to go.  When in the woods with Robert, I'll ask him how to get back to the car.  Typically we haven't ventured off the trail, but if the trail loops I'd like him to be able to point directly to the vehicle based on the mental map he has created while walking.  Can a 7 year old do this? Hardly.  Is this a skill that will layer on year after year? Absolutely.

Finally, for us, we make every effort to remain patient.  If we're getting frustrated, it's time to find a log and sit for a minute.  On one very memorable hike we were about two thirds complete, when Robert was showing signs of frustration, and Jen was getting a little winded.  In fairness, Jen was about 6 mos pregnant and I had slightly undersold the actual distance we were hiking.  Be that as it may, Jen sat down to rest, and I found a young tree and taught Robert a lesson my grandfather had taught me about how to make a easy little walking stick.  Three years later, Robert still has that walking stick set aside at my uncle's cabin, for when we visit.

As a family, Jen and I make every effort to give our boys the best upbringing we can.  That doesn't mean that latest and greatest toys.  That does mean time well spent, and experiences that they will carry forever.

Happy Exploring,
Scott M.

No comments:

Post a Comment