This Memorial Day weekend, my son, six years old, and I biked and camped the C&O Canal in Western Maryland. We parked at Little Orleans and assembled our gear in a trailer graciously lent to me by a good friend. At noon, we mounted our bikes and headed five miles north to Devils Alley campsite. After pitching the tent and eating lunch, my intended goal was to bike ten more miles north to the Paw Paw Tunnel where I could share with him this unique engineering feat and the micro ecosystem that lays at its mouth. The competitive mama was in denial that my son was not going to be able to bike ten miles north and then back. I expressed my goal aloud and maintained my cheerleading stance throughout the ride to the campsite and then on our quest to the tunnel. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, particularly the hundreds of butterflies, and I relished in the quality time I was spending with him.
Five miles into my goal to reach the tunnel, he stopped for the tenth time and announced, "I'm tired. Can we turn around?" Two voices went off in my head at the same time.
The competitive mama's voice said, "Oh, but we haven't reached our goal yet."
While the compassionate mama's voice said, "Okay, meet him where he's at for the positive experience and turn around."
Which voice made it out of my mouth? The competitive voice wrestled with the compassionate. "Are you sure you want to turn around?"
"Yes." he stated.
"Okay, we will visit the tunnel some other time, " the compassionate voice said. As we headed back to the campsite, he asked how many miles he had biked. Fifteen. "Hey, that is my personal best," he exclaimed with pride.