Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Mama Ah Hah Moment!

    I am a competitive person. It is in my Chambers' genes and has been passed down for hundreds of generations that I am sure.   If I am not competing against another person than I am competing against myself - seeking the next best PR or one upping the last adventure. Until this weekend.
   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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dirty Knees

Dirty knees and sticky fingers!
    Dirty knees! These words conjure up a lot of images, particularly in the minds of moms who do a majority of the laundry. In my house that would be my husband; therefore, I wonder what images come to the forefront of his mind when he sees our kid's dirty knees.
    This weekend, my family and three others went camping in my favorite DC spot - Patuxent River Park, Jug Bay (read my May 2011 review of Jug Bay). Shortly after arriving on Friday evening, all eight kid's knees were dusty from running up and down the trail, kneeling on the dirty dock and sitting by the campfire to roast marshmallows. Saturday morning's bright sunshine brought aquatic adventures. The kids couldn't wait to get the rented canoes and kayaks to explore the abundant wildlife along the shore and show off their paddling skills to one another. They all negotiated who was going to kayak back to the dock by themselves and who was paddling a canoe; yes, with an adult. Upon reaching the campsite dock, negotiations continued.
    Most of us forgot that the Patuxent River is a tidal river and the tide was vacating the shore. Results, muck! Thick, dark grey muck - the kind that suctions everything that accidently falls on top of it. Including three girls. Well that was last year when two of them tried to walk along, what they thought was, the dry shore. Nope, they quickly sunk to their knees. The third tried to be the savior. That failed also. As parents, we watched the scenario unfolded, including problem solving to unsuction their limbs from the thick, dark quicksand. The clean-up job with no bathrooms was fun. Not! So this year when the tide was out by lunch time, the kids were hungry and wanted to dock. The life line was deployed and water skiing on mud took place.
     For me, kid's dirty knees mean they are engaging in imaginative adventures outdoors, laughing, smiling and being carefree and independent. The best part of the weekend was watching my kids and their friends be excited to create fun for themselves however they decided - following the inlet paths among the reeds on a kayak, using sticks as weapons to conquer an opponent or territory, sleeping in a tent without a parent, sharing a hammock or a seat on the dock to chat and learning to paddle a canoe to be the captain of your own ship. Dirty knees = outdoor happiness!