Brutal honesty coming up; the last few times we’ve spent outdoors with our son have been a bit gruesome. He does not want to go anywhere or do anything. I blame Leonardo. Or is it Michelangelo today? I can’t keep up, not only with those turtles, but also with our sons mood. He’s three, well nearly four, and we’ve been lucky in that we never had to deal with the terrible twos, or threes. He’s usually a ball of energy with a chilled out vibe, who loves to play, has a very cheeky streak but listens really well and has yet to throw a massive tantrum about anything… his favourite saying is “Ain’t no big thing till you make it a big thing”, so we’ve been lucky, right?
We’ve had some fun times this summer, but I can definitely say we’ve also had some tough times. We’ve done far more than we thought we would have given his broken femur earlier this year. That was an emotional time, so hard to see him in that much pain and suddenly restricted with his spica cast, but he recovered really well. When he’s asked to go canoeing or walking and camping, we’ve gone but we’ve gone slow and stayed low in the valleys. We’ve taken our lead from our son, going at his pace and one step after the other.
When I say we usually take our lead from our son, that’s not to say that we let him rule the roost. Far from it, but we do believe in us each having a voice and a say in what we do together as a family. I don’t ever want him to think, regardless of his age, that he can’t voice an opinion or say what he really wants to do. But what we are teaching him at the same time, is that being part of a family is not just about what he wants to do, or where he wants to go. It’s about a bit of give and take. After all, mummy and daddy have to fill their adventure pot up once in a while as well.
We try to involve him in as much of the planning as possible. He picks out our weekend adventures out of the adventure jar (a few folded up bits of paper with suggestions for walks, camping trips etc on them). We get the maps out and talk about the possibilities we could do on the trip with him. He helps us pack, we help him pick out a few toys to take with him. We take his favourite sweet snacks. And if we don’t fancy the adventure jar lucky dip, we ask him what he wants to do and take that in to consideration.
He’s made a full recovery and is back to running around and dancing and jumping the whole time. But the last couple of times we’ve been away our son has been, well, maybe sullen could be the right word for it. He’s lost the enthusiasm he used to have for walking, instead insisting on being carried the majority of the way in the back carrier.
It’s only been a recent turn in mood. We thought, going by past walks with our son that walking up Carn Dearg would be an easy and suitable walk for him last month so only expected him to be in the back carrier for the more uphill and boggier section of path. How wrong we were, when he wanted to be in the back carrier just 10 minutes from the car and dragged his feet the times he was walking. That was when we then had to move on to plan C, given the moods, lack of progress and unfortunate (and not forecast) change in weather.
We went away in the campervan recently and one day went on a 4km level walk that somehow, with every step we took, seemed to drain the energy from both me and my husband. Our son was not happy and once again dragged his feet unless we were all racing each other or pretending to be ninja turtles or evil baddies.
A while ago, at the end of a rough day with my son, I was talking to my husband about it. Split between wanting to tear my hair out and scream with wanting to rush in and wake up our sleeping son and apologise for being so grumpy when days can be so long sometimes, my husband said something to me that annoyingly made perfect sense of it all.
It came down to this: If you’re not happy with how the day’s going, and/or you’ve got a spirited little person driving you insane and the end of the day seems a long way off, change it! It’s up to you to do something about it. Sure, you have to dig down deep, find that extra bit of patience and/or get up and go, whatever it is, and it can be exhausting but a simple redefinition can go a long way on a long day!
So, we’re redefining the moments from now on. Our son’s a fan of canoeing. Maybe to him it’s a nicer, gentler way of watching the world go by. Or maybe it’s something as simple as the end of a long and adventure filled summer? Either way, we’re listening and we’re being patient. We’ll be embarking on lots of canoeing trips, doing river trips etc that me and my husband have wanted to do and hope our son finds his get up and go again at some point. But again, as we did at the start of the summer, we’ll take it slow. After all, the end results will be so worth the wait if he does decide with all his might, that he does want to go for that walk. Until then, we’ll all be taking a seat with him in the canoe and watch the world go by, for a short while at least…
©An Outdoors Family 2015