Can I please see a show of hands from the parents in the crowd?
Have you ever torn up the hole-riddled pants your kid refuses to part with (but finally took off tonight) into rags right away so the kid can’t find them and put them on again?
Have you ever had a kid say, “I’m sorry you had to sit here by yourself while we finished the hike,” and then had to bite your tongue so you wouldn’t say, “I’m not”?
So… it’s just me, then?
We went for a family hike this morning. Last week’s hike was classified as “moderate.” This one was “hard.” On the upside, it was only half the length.
It started off as an even dirt road, so I walked with Mr. December and the kids for a while. My ankle was already unhappy but I find forests deeply relaxing and energizing at the same time, so I chose to suck it up and limp along anyway. N was insistent that he would turn around when I did—he really did not want to be there at all—but Mr. December announced that he would be awarding XP (experience points, like in the computer games the kids like) for things like exploring off-trail. As soon as he heard “XP,” N (and the other kids) ran to do whatever challenges Mr. D cooked up for them.
At the end of the dirt path I had to turn back, to my great regret. The path had just turned into a narrow trail that climbed up into the woods over picturesque boulders and rocks—boulders and rocks that would make my ankle scream at me. I turned back.
I took my time heading back to the car. At one point I nearly stepped on a well-camouflaged frog that was just sitting in the middle of the road. I crouched down and watched him for a while, then continued on my way.
Back at the car I popped open the tailgate, folded down one of the back seats to give myself somewhere to sit, and put my foot up on a cold water bottle (another great reason to use these silicone water bottles: they make lovely squishy cold packs for injuries.) Then I pulled out my sketchbook and pencils and spent the next hour trying to capture the scene in front of me. I couldn’t get the shadows right, but otherwise I managed a credible likeness. When I could add no more detail I put away the sketchbook and read a book until the kids came running back.
Mr. December thanked me a few times for coming along for the drive even though I couldn’t do the whole hike with them. I told him—truthfully, of course—that I had enjoyed my solitude in the forest. I wouldn’t have spent my time nearly as productively if I had stayed home by myself. It was a lovely morning, and my only regret was that I didn’t get to take that beautiful rocky trail all the way around the water.