Someone out there thinks we are being irresponsible parents forcing our kids to go on a big walk.
We’ve only heard this second-hand……if we had been told directly we would not have defended our position. We would have thanked them for their concern. While we would have acknowledged that this kind of trip is certainly not for everyone, we would possibly have been able to make the Concerned People feel a little more comfortable by showing them that the children are under no duress. In fact, when we mentioned the disapproval to the children they were the first to cry out, “You’re not forcing us to, we want to do it”!! Of course it is true to say that the youngest members do not have any choice about staying home. But they did enter the discussion about what trip we should do. (And you know what? I’m of the opinion that ANY proposal presented with enthusiasm on the part of the adults is likely to be embraced with excitement by the short members of the family – at least, this has been our experience.) In this instance, the older children were offered the option to remain behind, but they elected to join us.
Now if the critics could spend a little time with us, they would see that our whole family is quite accustomed to walking. We do a lot of it, and what’s more, we enjoy it (except for the eldest son, but even he agreed to come and did not vote against doing the Camino).
At the weekend we donned packs and headed for the hills. According to the website information we had, it was meant to be a 206m hill; it turned out to be nearer to 500m of climbing UP UP UP…..and the same down again. When the website writers noted “steep and slippery after a few days of rain” they could legitimately have added “or even on sunny days in winter”.
We trudged and slipped and slid up and down, taking Grandpa (in his own words) “to the end of my physical capacity”.
What was supposed to be a two hour jaunt, allowing us to get home in time for lunch, turned into a bit of an epic marathon – the last stragglers did not emerge from the bush until after 2pm, and the lunch was still sitting at home in the pantry!
The good thing is, we know that the biggest climb we’ll be doing on our trip is 600m. That’s not much further than Saturday’s climb AND it’s spread out over a longer distance so will not be as steep AND we will not be in a hurry to get home to do chores around the house AND there will be noone coming for dinner. We also know that if for some reason we are unable to procure a meal when we expect to, we’re all able to walk on and on and on….even on empty stomachs (although, naturally, we will do our best to be prepared).
Everyone was able to walk on Sunday, and so any lingering fears that maybe we might not manage to tackle this dream were allayed. Even the critics might have been silenced, had they chanced to see us staggering down the last hill with smiles on our faces and the kids repeatedly insisting “This is such fun”! But you know what? We understand that not everyone understands us and we’re OK with that.
What is written above is the truth, BUT it is not the whole truth. The whole truth would contain the story of the walk from a week earlier. It was a simple jaunt around our local suburbs, not overly far (under 10km) and not at all demanding in terms of terrain (being limited to footpaths) and about as flat as it is possible to get when you live in the foothills (total ascent of only about 100m).
At one point the youngest three decided they did not really want to go much further, and in particular did not want to climb the (very very small) hill before us, a climb they have made on numerous occasions, I might add. The two smallest grizzled, complained, moaned, whinged, wished aloud that we could have a break at the bottom of the hill instead of the top. And when we got to the top the very smallest one refused to sit down and rest. Upon completing the break, the youngest male decided that he could not walk properly due to a dreadful and sudden ankle injury….and so while everyone else went on, I waited with him until he felt able to continue. It took closer to ten minutes than five for his recovery to take effect. Unfortunately, whilst his physical recovery was complete, the Attitude-with-a-Capital-A lingered somewhat longer.
It is not always sunshine and roses when you embark on activites with children, but neither does that mean we should sit at home all the time. Growth comes for all through hardships – the kids learn to get on with it and the parents have an opportunity to practise patience!