More and more, I’m seeing that the kids almost never want to do things that involve effort. Going for a walk? Nah. Canoeing across the lake? No thanks. Go see a waterfall? Unless it’s right outside the window, nope.
It gets really old, always having to coerce them into doing things, yet we continue to do it because the alternative is doing nothing and going nowhere. It’s a good thing that every time we force them into an activity they end up loving it. Either they’re the most affable, happy-go-lucky kids in the world, or we know our kids well enough to pick activities they’ll love.
Today we drove a few minutes down the road to a conservation area that forms part of the Bruce trail. Getting them into the car was a chore and they argued and bickered all the way there and even at the beginning of the trail. There we were, standing in front of a gorgeous waterfall, and the kids were arguing about who got to hold the binoculars (I resolved that one by holding them myself.) I was rolling my eyes and wondering whether this hike would be worth all the effort.
Then I heard the bickering turn to excited chatter as we rounded a corner and found ourselves on the riverbank.
“Can we try crossing it, Eema? Can we?”
I was hesitant: the ground was wet, and I slipped and fell on the rocks while I was just standing there. Still, I make plenty of comments about how people should let their kids take real risks. Do I believe it or not? I capitulated and Mr. December added a caveat: “You guys are taking the risk that you might get wet or you might slip and fall.”
No sooner had he finished speaking than they were off. All four of my kids in a line, led by K (of course,) stepping from stone to stone and balancing on logs to get to the larger rocks in the middle of the river.
“It’s an obby!” R cheered repeatedly. For those of you without a clue, an “obby” is an obstacle-course type Roblox game. I wouldn’t have thought that a computer game could get them excited for being out in nature, but there we were.
I thought they’d get tired of their explorations quickly and we’d all continue hiking along the trail. Forty-five minutes later I accepted that I was mistaken. They made their way upriver by way of stones, logs, and tiny islands, and the only trail hiking we really did was on the way back to the car.
Did they get hurt? Not really. Did they get wet? In E’s case, her shoes were soaked and her pants were drenched to the knee. Everyone else ended up with wet sneakers. Any regrets? None.
It was an awesome morning once we made it through all the resistance and arguing. Next time I start questioning the wisdom of forcing the kids to go somewhere or do something, I’ll be able to look back at the pictures I took today and stand firm.