Hiking With the Baby Bear

This labor day weekend we had the opportunity to spend two glorious days outside, hiking.  Our 2 year old rides in a kelty pack on my back for most of the walking, but as he’s gotten older we’ve allowed/encouraged him to do more of the walking himself.  This means we’ve lowered our standards for what constitutes a “hike” and it also means that when I am being present and patient I am able to enjoy what amounts to a relatively meditative walk in the woods.

Interesting sticks, pine cones, leaves, ants, butterflies and ohhhh, a garter snake!  Rocks and acorns become treasures and every little hillock becomes a slide.

When I am being the agenda driven, impatient and distracted parent, these hikes feel like slowwww torture.  “C’mon, leave that rock”.  “No honey, that’s not a slide, get up and walk.” I begin to feel like my brains are oozing out of my ears just by virtue of boredom and I get frustrated and aggravated by the constant need to look at, and touch, everything.  And, to top it off, I grow irritated that I am not “getting” any exercise.

Sigh…

But, this weekend was the amazing conflation of actual hiking (and the bonus weight training of 28 pounds of squirming toddler on my back!) and toddler discoveries.  We “hunted” for bears and butterflies, we played in the dusky glen, we kicked pine cones and let the mud ooze between our toes.

And, by turn, our son pretended to be a baby bear, a cheetah, a bald eagle and a horse.  I love that his sense of self is established enough that he can pretend to be something else.  It is amazing to me to watch this developmental growth, this magical metamorphosis of boy into beast and back into boy.

If I’d rushed him along, he’d have become the recalcitrant toddler and I the irritated mama.  But, by staying in the moment, the entirety of creation became ours.  Shape shifting family enjoying a pretend nibble of zebra to top off a lunch of hummus and crackers.

Life is truly good (except for when it’s not, but in retrospect I find that it usually still is)…

Shallow water + mud + boy = basking turtle

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