If you have seen our Metaphor Monday Series the you know our family loves being outdoors into nature. This past weekend for Family Day Long weekend (it’s a fairly new Canadian holiday) we drove north of the city to find some snow. It’s been a mild winter, with barely any snow, a fair amount of rain and the classic grey skies of winter.
We camped in a yurt, smaller than our kitchen (ok our kitchen is fairly large but still) A yurt is a small temporary vinyl hut (see picture below).
There is nothing like being in one small room with your whole family to make one eager to get out in the
frigid cold. So that’s what we did of course. We had our cross country skis, snowshoes and winter apparel and were set to get out into nature.
After x-country skiing in the first half of the day, we had our lunch, lounged around and then went for a hike.
Everyone My husband and I were eager to get outside once again out of the small confines of our yurt. There was some debate amongst the smaller folk about whether or not snow shoes should be worn which we handled quickly skillfully with the “we know best” parent card.
Needless to say our eldest was not so pleased, but once we were out on the trail he quickly forgot. Of course I debated in my head whether to just let him learn on his own that going on an unknown trail full of lots of snow was likely done best with snow shoes and not just winter boots. But I quickly dropped that idea when I imagined just how treacherous it might get not to mention the complaining voices of my children as they were unable to get up the snow-covered hilly paths ahead of us. Perhaps it was selfish, as I did not want my nature hike spoiled by unhappy children. Some might say it was good planning.
Once on the path we were all pretty happy. The fresh air, the beautiful snow-covered scenery and the promises of discovering more beauty on the trail kept us going.
We traveled all the way down to the frozen lake to see what we could see. People ice fishing in the distance and snowmobiling up close. We had our own little show as we sat on a bench ate snack and stared out onto the frozen lake.
Anyway, after snack we headed back, continuing to follow the hiking sign where we had left off to detour to the lake. There were some steep slopes to climb and I’m pretty sure both kids were glad they had their snowshoes on for grip. At some point my youngest and I were far behind my eldest and my husband. I could see that even with the snack break his energy was waning. The sun was going down and coloring the sky with it’ s beautiful glow. I took my son’s slow pace as an opportunity to take some pictures and bask in the beauty while pointing it out to him.
His interest in the beautiful scenery began to dwindle the more we hiked trying to catch up with the other half of our family. His tolerance for hiking was diminished. It reminded me of one of the ice fishers who had passed us on the way down to the lake who had pushed by us with a scowl on his face. His partner had happily answered my inquiries in passing about how they had faired, letting me know that they had not caught anything. I felt I had to be like the partner who was able to let go and appreciate the present.
After a while my husband told me we had to turn around because he thought we were going the wrong way. A few minutes later my son noticed we had been that way already and I told him he was right that we had headed in the wrong direction. He pouted disappointedly. Really I couldn’t blame him. He’d been out all day and now our hike had been mistakenly extended.
As his paced slowed more I felt my patience tested. I knew that if I became annoyed he’d only drag his feet more having his pride hurt. I knew that if I lost patience, not only would it not get us there faster, but also would likely slow us down more. And to top it off we’d both be miserable. I tried to be transparent, letting him know my thoughts on the matter while making him aware of his choices: he can choose to focus on the beautiful sunset and the snow-covered scenery surrounding us or he can choose to complain that we still are not back at the yurt yet.
He continued to move slowly, stopping to pick up snow and throw it to curiously at a tree. I decided that this was his way of coping: distraction. Every now and again he’d try to get me with some snow. He was adapting to the situation. It’s not that he didn’t still announce that he was tired and ask when we’re we going to be back and why did his dad go the wrong way. But he was coping, he was still walking, he was still playful.
When we got back I felt refreshed. I had managed to stay present. My son managed to cope with the longer than intended hike. And we were back.
What helps you stay present in trying situations with your children?