Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in the world. The peace I’ve found while out on walks through the woods is unlike anything else, so naturally I want to share this with my children so that they can learn to appreciate nature and connect with the world around them. It is also important bonding time with the dogs.Rama–as many of you may already know–is not my only dog. There are other Corsos with which we share our home, and they, too, love to get out and walk. The youngest pup Cairo had not yet gone on a hike, so yesterday we set her up with her very own (pretty much empty) pack and along with our other young girl Bella (15 months), we set out for what I’d hoped would be a relaxing late afternoon hike on a breezy, mild day. I’d hoped that it would help to tire everyone out, as this whole past week the kids have been out of school (Spring Break) and squabbling. Let me just say that the idea of it was so much more peaceful and flowery than the actual excursion.
As we drove toward the trails, the 16-year-old complained about having to come along, the 10-year-old incessantly asked me where it was that we were going and the 4-year-old repeatedly told him to “be quiet.” I’d already explained where we were going, but as any mother can attest, children do not listen. Unless the words “ice cream”, “toys” or “Disney World” are mentioned, children will not hear you. This is especially true of the 10-year-old, except in his case, legos and video games are pretty much all that will grab his attention. Otherwise he will repeatedly ask you the same questions over and over. I hate repeating myself so you can pretty much imagine how the drive went. >;-/
When we arrived and suited up the dogs (Cairo is only 6 months old so her pack was empty except for bandages and gauze), I instructed the children to pat attention to what was in front of them so as not to run into any spider webs. On my last hike out here I’d nearly walked right into one, complete with a humongous spider. This sent the 10-year-old into panic mode. He is not the outdoorsy type. At all. In fact I think he is allergic to sweating.
The 4-year-old, feeding off of her brother’s panic, began to whine. “I don’t like spiders. Carry me!” Now I had my pack, my good camera and a dog. I convinced her that her own legs worked just fine and that holding my hand was an acceptable alternative to being carried. Her brother was by now fighting back tears as his older brother ribbed him about spiders falling from the trees into his hair. Nice.
Iwas surprised to see about 4 other cars out there, as it was usually fairly quiet. There was a younger gentleman with an adorable baby strapped to his chest as well as several older couples. As we entered the trail head I prayed aloud that the kids would chill out and enjoy the scenery. It was an overcast day and the temperature was about 74. Very nice out. The rustling of leaves in the wind was hypnotic. I had needed an outing like this for some time. The week had been fraught with frayed nerves with all the kids out of school and nowhere for me to escape save the bathroom, which, as all moms know, is really no haven. Three doors and a bathroom fan can’t muffle the sound of a screeching kid. And unless you remember to lock said doors, you will be listening to the screeching from the other side.The 16-year-old being the typical older brother, delighted in playing on his younger brother’s fear of spiders and made sure to point out every web we passed. By now, the 10-year-old had dissolved into bouts of crying and wailing. No, I am not kidding. The 4-year-old began whining, hanging on me like a sloth. Despite my assurances that no spiders were going to eat him today, he continued. I was pleased that at least the dogs did not seem to care about his protestations. They sniffed and examined and perked their ears at the birds singing in the trees. At least they seemed to be enjoying the outing. I tried to divert his attention to the beauty around him. There were a few signs informing of native plant and animal life, none of which held any interest for him. I sighed aloud and thought to myself how badly I wanted to punch his father in the groin for not encouraging him to do anything outdoors. His father and grandmother have always been very sedentary people, and it unfortunately was being passed down. Having a child that goes back and forth between households is never easy, especially when the two households do things very differently.
We pressed on.
We came upon a fewladies hiking an adjoining trail (the trails cross at one point) who wanted to visit with the dogs. We’d gone a half mile so far, and that half milehad been peppered with so much crying and whining that I was sure others on the trails had heard the commotion and were cursing me for bringing the kids out to such a peaceful place. Our visit was very pleasant and we eventually moved on, happyto be able to introduce someone else to our wonderful breed. A few minutes after we’d left theladies, the 4-year-old beginsshreiking while staring at her arm.”What?! What is it?” I said as I got closer to her. She’d actually ventured a few steps ahead of me to walk alongside one of the dogs. This was good, I thought, at least she wasn’t hanging onto me and was looking around. She did not answer me, not in word form anyway. It was a mosquito. I sighed, flicked it away and hugged her. We live in the land of mosquitoes; whaddya do?
I looked up ahead and the 16-year-old is dodging imaginary spider webs in our path and I swear, at that moment I just wanted to scream. But, no worries, the 10-year-old did it for me. Blood-curdling screams that I’m sure scared away every living woodland creature within a 2 mile radius. Now, I am an F-word connoisseur. By this time I had invented several new variations of my favorite curse word in my head. Poor Cairo, her handler was having a meltdown. Thank goodness she has a very even temperament. I think Bella had discovered the trail of some animal, because she was otherwise engaged. The 16-year-old thought it was all so hilarious, I silently cursed him to 5 screaming children when he grew up. Oh how I would laugh…
We passed a sign for a longer trail but by then Ihad had about all I could stand. I couldn’t imagine another few miles. Inside I yearned to hike longer but these poor kids were going to fall apart. We headed back to the car. Part of mewas disappointed that the younger 2 kids didn’t enjoy the outing, and the other half was cursing myself for attempting to enjoy an activity I so love, with squabbling kids in tow. This was something I loved to do; something I’d hoped to share with them and it didn’t go so well.I remembered something my husband had said a few years back:
“We should rent an rv and take all the kids to the Grand Canyon!”
I’d laughed and laughed, then felt horror sweep over me as I’d realized he was serious. I told him the only way I’d do that was if we rented 2 rvs and I drove with the dogs in one and he drove with the kids. As we loaded up and prepared to leave the trails, I found myself entertaining the idea of a cross-country rv trip, hiking all over the country, introducing the kids to things they’d never seen. Maybe it wasn’t too late to cultivate a love of nature in the 10-year-old. As I envisioned his face falling and his eyes welling with tears at the prospect of weeks on the road with no video games and hikes nearly every day, I was jolted back to reality by the squabbling that was going on already as they climbed in the van.
Yeah, maybe not.
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