“I don’t want Daddy to go to work tomorrow,” said a sweet little Cragbaby the Sunday after New Year’s. He’d grown quite comfortable with the idea of having Daddy around to play with him all day over the holidays (and to be honest, I had too!) I knew that the good-bye at breakfast Monday morning had the potential to be kinda rough. So I decided to plan a fun adventure for just the two of us, hoping that any lingering sadness about Daddy being gone would be counteracted by enthusiasm about our special day. Since C has had so much fun trekking in and out of the crag on his own two feet recently, I decided that a morning on the hiking trail would be the perfect distraction.
It was a clear, crisp day, cold enough for coats and hats, but no gloves required. After forgetting how much longer it takes for just one person to get a toddler ready in the morning, we finally arrived at McDowell Nature Center around 10. After checking out all the reptiles and amphibians on display inside, as well as popping off a few tunes at the outdoor xylophone, C was ready to hike. We took off down the Sierra Trail, C armed with his new camera he got for Christmas, and me with a new Hydration Pack from Jetflow (review coming on Thursday!) I told C he could take pictures of anything that looked interesting or beautiful, which meant that we stopped every few steps. The majority of his photo subjects were trees, leaves, moss, and lichen, although there were a few random (and rather unflattering) picture of me and my pant legs as well. Evidently C is still working on his photo composition skills…
As we neared the end of the loop trail, C spied some little benches and announced that we needed a snack break. While we chomped on some cashews, I showed C how to work the Hydration System. At once he decided that he needed to be in charge of the backpack, which meant that the Mommy got stuck with the camera, a hiking stick, and 3 leaves – one big, one medium, and one little (a Daddy one, a Mommy one, and a “C” one.)
It was a pretty laidback hike – we moved at a snail’s pace, and barely covered a mile in 45 minute’s time. But we explored, we sang (Christmas songs by C’s request), we observed, and we enjoyed each other’s company. I followed his lead, and happily followed silly toddler trail directions –
“Stay BEHIND me, Mommy.”
“Go over that root, Mommy.”
“Kick those leaves, Mommy.”
“Be careful Mommy. This part is slippery.” (my personal favorite.)
To C, it was a morning filled with excitement and adventure, and it definitely did the job of keeping C’s mind off of the missing Daddy (although at one point he did announce that he missed Daddy and that he was going to tickle him when he got home…) To me, it was a great chance for some one on one time with my little boy. The neat thing was that it really took very little effort on my part - we just threw a few essentials into the car (food, water, warm layers, hiking stick, and camera) and hit the road! I guess the moral of the story is to not make things too complicated. Just because you don’t have your whole weekend free, or even the whole day, doesn’t mean you can’t fit in a little bit of adventure with your little one in tow. Even if it’s just something as simple as a 10 minute stroll around the neighborhood with your tyke, it’ll go a long way towards raising a child with a spirit of exploration, as well as refreshing your own perspective. What simple adventures has your family done (or been wanting to do) lately?