Thursday, August 16, 2012

What I Learned About My Kids (and Myself)

Looking at Mt. Lafayette and Lincoln at Lonesome Lake

Greenleaf Hut
Engaging in the outdoors and testing my kid's physical (and mental) limits has allowed me to view deep into their personalities and how they experience life. In the last couple of years, I have taken them (ages 7 and 11) backpacking, hut hiking, kayaking, bike camping, rock scrambling and camping for long periods of time far away from home. Each time I push the difficulty level on the adventure meter.
     Before last week, they have hiked 8 miles in one day, carried a backpack on short distance backpacking trips and hiked over 1,000 feet in elevation on a short trail. I combined it altogether to hike two AMC huts in the White Mountains. I was confident they would rise to the challenge. The challenge for me was keeping my sometimes impatient nature in check and being the most positive, patient mommy when the going got tough (more on that later). Huge insights learned:
  • My son is internally motivated. He didn't need me, his sister or anyone else to get him up the mountain. He enjoyed the physically challenge. Often he said, "mom, this is fun." He had his moments on the second day when his little feet developed hot spots. I was grateful he communicated with me. We patched his feet a few different times and he was good to go never developing blisters. That would have definitely slowed him down. Often he was the lead encouraging us with his bouncy steps to maintain a presence behind him.
  • My daughter is externally motivated. However, garnering that motivation from her mother is not the key. Instead, I received the whines of, "I'm tired or I don't want to do this anymore." Her brother can sometimes provide that motivation through competition. However, her peers and friends are the best motivators. Stalling up the mountain and complaining was the name of the game on the first day. By coincidence, we ran into neighbors at the Lonesome Lake hut. The three girls, older than her, helped motivate her to hike the difficult trail to Greenleaf hut. Upon reaching the hut, she would normally have been done for the day but she decided to summit Mt. Lafayette with the girls. The reward was the beautiful view. The reward for me was her telling me with a smile that the view was beautiful. This meant it was well worth the physical effort.

      Did the going-get-tough? Yes, from each child. I realized I had more patience for my son. Was I being fair? No, I concluded. Why was I being less patient with my daughter than my son? Upon reflection, I realized I want her to be TOUGH; be strong. Unlike her mama at her age. I have learned since then to be tough. I continue to learn everyday. There is a little voice of doubt in my head that creates fear and anxiety to remind me that maybe I can't do it. But I love proving it wrong!
      Each of these challenges in the outdoors allows me to work on my patience with my kids, in particular my daughter. I want them to learn about and explore their physical limits. I want to model for them that going beyond reaps rewards of greater self-confidence.

No comments:

Post a Comment