May 2011

Reality: 1
Fantasy: 0
But I wouldn’t want it any other way


Why hiking with a 4-year old requires an adjustment to expectations

After countless weekends filled with errands, appointments and lots and lots of visitors, the May long weekend arrived to an agenda filled with, by complete design, nothing!


As a general rule, we don’t like to travel on long weekends. Packing the vehicle to the rafters, fighting traffic in every direction, panicking over the price of gas …. all of it seems daunting and simply miserable. So when my husband tacked on an additional day, we had a 4-day, sticking-around-home, weekend paradise.


Now that we had 96-hours staring us in the face, what were we going to do?


Since the weather promised to be ‘adequate’ for Saturday, we decided to head out the K-Country way and take advantage of the miles and miles of hiking trails and natural wonders. You see, from the moment we conceived our first child, I have created a fantasy in my head. It consists of our little family unit, laughing and joyful, hiking through the majestic Rocky Mountains, stopping to identify animal tracks and unique vegetation, all while the sun shines its radiant warmth down, enveloping us on our journey.


And this trip was exactly … well, not that!

While it’s true there was laughter and while it’s true there was an occasional glimpse of the sun, those are pretty much where the similarities end. The laughter was usually “at” someone rather than together as a cohesive unit (look, daddy just slipped in the mud and now there is brown goop all the way up his backside). The sun did make an appearance, between the thundershowers and severe wind. While the trails were scattered with an array of flowers, animal prints and rare flora, my enthusiastic displays were generally met with “I’m tired …. please carry me…. when are we going to be done … I want to go home and play Wii … can I have a snack …”


Not exactly the fantasy I imagined.

Having said that, being outdoors, inhaling the fresh air, surrounded on all sides by mountains, rivers and trees and more than anything, all of us being together – well, nothing could have made me happier. It was just what I wanted. Simple family time, simply being together. Nothing fancy. Nothing pre-determined. Just us.


And just so we’re clear, I know I need to be realistic and alter my expectations. After all, my main hiking companion is 4 years-old and thinks it’s hysterically entertaining and completely normal to stop, drop his pants, moon fellow nature lovers and pee in the trees. He gets more excited about throwing rocks in the water than realizing the water itself is the backdrop in a beautiful setting.

But one day, my boys will be older and with any luck, they will want to head to the mountains on the weekend. Hopefully they will realize how fortunate they are to call this their backyard and hopefully they will have a love and a passion for the outdoors.  And one of those times, with any luck, the rivers will be running and the sun will be shining and together as a family, we will be laughing and joyful. I just hope I have the presence of mind to realize, when I am “in” it, that my fantasy is actually occurring.

Right before my husband and I ask “when are we going home …. we’re tired!”