Oliver, Jethro (our dog), and I went on a morning hike to one of our frequently visited hiking trails (hence the photos below from a few different days of hiking this trail 🙂 ). It’s a close hiking trail to our house and very kid-friendly in terms of terrain and elevation. O has recently reached the age where he wants to hike himself and not be carried. It started slow; he would just hike for 10-15 minutes and then be content to be placed in the carrier. He got to explore. I got to get a good hike in. Win-win. Now, however, he resists the carrier. Eventually, when he finds himself sitting every 5 steps, he will reluctantly be carried for a bit before he recoups and again wants to get out an explore from the ground.
This is new territory for me and requires a new mindset, which I’m still very actively working on and trying to figure out! I love seeing O explore and stop every couple of steps to pick up another stick or another pine cone. Or just watch him laugh as he runs through the tall grasses. Or flap his arms like wings and make a bird call when he sees a bird. Or see his adventurous spirit climb rocks and stumps.
But then, after 30 minutes and a total distance of 100 yards, I sometimes begin to get impatient.
“Let’s keep moving, Oliver.”
“Do you want to run or walk to catch up to Jethro?”
“Let’s go find some birds in those trees up there!”
That works for a few steps until something else catches his interest. Usually another stick. Maybe some animal poop.
I don’t always know the best way to handle it all. And then as we were walking hand in hand on the trail, it occurred to me that maybe I just needed to have different expectations for different types of hike. Sometimes we would be on a completely Oliver-led hike. We would have an hour (or whatever our time constraints may be) and only make it as far as he wanted. Other times, maybe the hike would be more about reaching a destination or a certain distance.
This mindset may or may not work. As I said, I’m still very much in the midst of figuring out this new stage. I’m guessing once we begin to get a handle of it (if we do..), everything will change when the new baby comes!
Until then (and even after the new one arrives!), we’ll keep hiking, exploring, adapting, learning, and reminding ourselves how lucky we are to live in Montana!