I am unsure whether my child got really lucky with me as a mother or she’s paying off some bad karma from a previous life. Better parents probably take their kids to Disney- land or something for spring break.
Not us. Our spring break shenanigans would not be complete if we did not pack two weeks with camping in the rain, traumatizing exposure to road kill, and at least one visit to a maritime museum dedicated mostly to anchors and limericks. Kids love that stuff.
Thus it was that we embarked on another one of our adjusted family misadventures this spring, car packed with bikes, camping gear, climbing kit, running shoes, no less than 40 pounds of cured meats and nuts, one mother, one sidekick, and one slightly less enthralled 7-year-old.
Just as I resisted having fun while growing up, my daughter Beverly resisted having fun. I’m not sure what sort of genetic mutation we’re passing down (no doubt the Viking blood is to blame), but in our family, “fun” and “extended misery followed by food” are interchangeable terms.
We began our trip by experiencing coastal monsoon climates from the comfort of our tent. Occasionally, the rain would pause to regain its momentum and we would launch ourselves from the pile of sleeping bags to explore the soggy world around us – usually by hiking the equivalent of the Pacific Coast Trail in a single afternoon, because kids also love hiking and making smart comparisons to the Trail of Tears.
(Parents: This is an opportune moment for a history lecture and blatant reality check that no matter how rough they think they have it, at least their dad isn’t Andrew Jackson. Kids love history, too.)
Now I have heard, probably from my own parents – an arguably unreliable resource at best – that if you continue to expose your children to these sorts of explorations of the world, they will one day enjoy them. Possibly not until they’ve grown up, paid for a lot of therapy and had their own children.
Honestly, I don’t know what is not to like about spooning oatmeal into your face from a half-washed camp cup while you shiver in the morning sunrise.
“Isn’t this invigorating?” I exclaim as I fish a pine needle out of my coffee.
“Normal families go to Disneyland for spring break, Mom.”
“Yeah, but we had a real mouse in our tent this morning. That’s way more authentic than Mickey.”
By the end of the first week, she had stopped mapping out the mileage to a theme park detour and begun making her peace with our journey.
And then something amazing happened.
It began with an adventure across the sand dunes, in which she leapt and ran and rolled with the playfulness of a carefree child. It was undeniable. She was having fun.
On the last day of our traipsing through the wonders of nature, 7 years of schlepping my kid along were justified in a single episode of incomparable parenting pride.
My educated-but-uninterested daughter tied a double eight knot into her climbing harness (thus far used mostly as an outdoor accessory) and told me she was going to climb to the top of the route we’d just set up – on the cliffs of Oregon’s Smith Rock. And then she did.
“I can see all the mountains from up here!” she yelled down to me as I stood jaw agape, heart swelling.
I don’t know a lot about the Matterhorn, but I can tell you that dangling from a single rope a couple of hundred feet up a canyon offers equal adrenaline and has a way better view. And chances are, we both built a little character along the way.
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