I was heading to an afternoon hike with Sparkles and Buttercup when Sparkles announced, “I don’t like hiking!” She made it clear that she preferred playgrounds and her experiences as a young hiker were over. Oh, no.
It is a balance every parent navigates, to plant the seeds, to set the example, to encourage your kids to have healthy habits that they will take with them when they are grown, habits like spending time outdoors and appreciating nature. But what do you do when your child gives up hiking when she is four?
I rule out the extremes. I’m not going to make hiking mandatory and drag her to the creek kicking and screaming, with the command, “Enjoy hiking now!” I’m also not going to say “OK!” and not take her hiking ever again. In the moment, I knew I needed some time to think, so I didn’t fight it and we spent that afternoon at a playground. We didn’t even hike to the playground, we took the wagon.
Sitting on the bench, watching Sparkles and Buttercup play, I decided a few things were true:
– I like hiking. In a family, everyone gets to do things they like some of the time and hiking is something that I like, so not going hiking at all is not an option.
– Hiking is a slower kind of fun than a playground. The trees have fewer bright colors. The creeks don’t have monkey bars. You have to look closer and imagine more to have a good time. And there is something deeper about the experience, something true and sweet, something that connects us with the world around us. I want my kids to be open to a slower, deeper kind of fun.
– If I battle this head-on, it will turn into a big mess. This situation called for a more subtle and creative approach.
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post about our next hike, using my subtle and creative approach, that had a surprise ending.