I wanted to share something I wrote on Facebook the other day. It’s a reminder that kids are resilient and capable. And I want to always have the reminder that my kids can do things that I do not expect them to. Kids who explore are happier in my experience, and this is a reminder that I think we all can use.
When Kids Just Go For It
We went on a hike yesterday. It wasn’t long, we got to the end of the path fairly quickly. And when we ended, we stared up large boulders. Steep, but not too steep. There was a clear path up them. I wasn’t sure if it made sense to go farther up, so I hesitated. And was immediately passed by 4 and 7 year old boys who went straight up. No hesitation. I had to chuckle as my mind was made up for me…we clearly weren’t just letting them climb up by themselves. Up, up they went, picking their path and chattering together. Just being kids who explore.
Letting Them Try…and Succeed
We got about 1/3 of the way up to a clearing and Ben went up by himself to determine the best route and to see if we should go farther. When he came back, he sent me up to see what I thought. As I reached the next clearing, I turned around to catch a glimpse of the view. And while the mountains and inlet were beyond beautiful, what gave me pause was the 3 year old little girl. She was well over 50% of the way up after me. Daddy followed close behind her ensuring safety, but she was doing the climbing with no help. She had no fear as she scrambled up after me. I could see her eyes sparkling as she called up, “I’m doing it, Mommy!”
Before I knew it, she was standing at my side. She was pointing out all the mountains and the water that lay ahead of us. Then reveling in the low lying plants on the large ledge on which we stood. “Green, Mommy! It’s green! And it’s soft!” What an Alaskan child celebrates in the spring. Sometimes I wonder if my kids would see the wonder in vegetations if we didn’t have our long winters. Would they notice the life popping up all over the place? Would they understand the significance of that new life? Or would they just look at the plants as a normal part of everyday and hardly take notice? Instead, she stopped mid climb up a mountain and just sat down and ran her hands softly along the plants. And she sat there for 10-15 minutes, just enjoying green and new life. Completely immersed in the nature surrounding us.
A few minutes later, the boys came up, again closely followed by Ben to make sure safety was ensured. It didn’t take long for them to also be completely immersed in the nature, as well. You know, being kids who explore. Soon all three had fashioned toys for themselves with nothing but imagination. Jules lounged against a rock, scraping two sticks against each other to make music. Jed found two sticks and a log to fashion a drum. James wandered around being a scout and explorer, chattering about all the things around him. It was a quick and poignant reminder that they don’t need all the toys. I don’t think that toys hurt – our kids have them. But an over abundance is just overwhelming.
Kids Who Explore
So what do kids actually needs? They need to be kids who explore. Kids who are allowed to run. To fashion nature toys. Kids who explore paths and observe and experience nature. Kids who are allowed to be outside. That’s what our kids need. So in the moment when you are feeling frustrated because your kids don’t have everything and maybe you’re not being the parent you want to be? Look around. You may actually be providing them with exactly what they need. And just in case you are curious…not all of our adventures go as planned. We have plenty of tears. But we still get out – because it’s still what our kids need!