We did a fair bit of hiking this weekend. David hiked the Castle Rock with Tre and six of his closest friends!
And on Sunday we attempted to hike Devil's Head, a local trail with gorgeous views.
Tre fell A LOT on these adventures. Mostly because he was running at top speeds, he was usually carrying a stick, and he was usually NOT looking where he was going.
As we were coming down the last hill towards the car last night Tre took another big spill, sliding several feel across loose gravel, roots, sticks, and other dangerous objects. As he came running to me, squealing, I picked him up, (which turned out to be not a great idea, because his entire bottom was freshly scratched and bloodied). As we were assessing the damage he looked up at me and said, “How come I keep falling so much when we are hiking?”
Now, my first thoughts went something like this,
“Well, as I have been telling you, screaming at you, reminding you, and asking you... it is dangerous to run down hill on loose gravel, and run with large sticks, and not watch where you are going when the path is not flat. You need to slow down, you need lean back, and step carefully.”
I did not say any of these things.
Instead I said, “I think you’re falling a lot because you are learning to hike, and you have a lot to learn, things that I apparently can not teach you. But you’re getting it! We’ll just keep hiking a lot okay?”
He replied, in his ever so enthusiastic and wise four year old words, “That’s a Great idea!” and off he went.
As I watched him run down the hill on the slick gravel, carrying a large stick, and not watching where he was going, again, I found myself realizing, this is painful. I know he is going to fall again, but I have to let him learn. I can only tell him so much, and he is a boy. He is in the woods, trying to catch up to his Papa, and he is playing and having the time of his life. If I made him walk next to me, carefully, watching each step, and noticing whether it was loose gravel, mud, flat surface, or root covered soil, he wold be miserable, the joy of hiking would be lost in the careful calculation of safety and security.
And then God said, “Just wait! You think this is hard. There will be many lessons he will have to learn, as you carefully walk behind him, watching him fall. But he won’t learn if you keep him from getting scratched.”
I think as moms/parents it is our natural tendency to want to protect our children, to ensure that they don’t fall, or get scratched. And even now in our society today, we don’t want kids to get hurt, we don’t give grades because we don’t want their self-esteem to be damaged, we don’t have “winners and losers” in soccer games because we don’t want the “losers” to feel hurt.
In reality, it is our job to make sure that they are safe, there were no cliffs where we were hiking, there were no raging rivers, it was a relatively safe path. I knew he would not die. But I also knew he would get hurt.
Watching Tre learn this is hard. But I can’t make him walk next to me for the rest of his life. Providing safety is not always what children need from their parents. Sometimes they need the freedom to get scratched.