Earlier this spring I was poking around facebook and came across this post of a mother's rant that she was done making childhood magical. Childhood is magical enough, she argued.
Provocative, yes. And, I, for one, don't believe my parents the same pressure to have perfectly plotted, accessorized and managed experiences for kids.
Thought-provoking, too. It got me thinking and talking with Tyler about what moments in our childhood felt magical and what that would mean for what for Stella and Otto. I was surprised to realize that most of my best memories of childhood involved being outside. Spending lazy summer days at a lake. Going to parks. Playing in the backyard. Hiking. Canoeing. Camping. Riding my bike and rollerskates. Pretty simple stuff. So I quickly dubbed this summer the "Summer of Hiking and Camping." (Plus we're saving up money and time off to go to Ireland next Spring....)
I had some evidence this would work out. Last year we managed to get in a couple hikes, even when Otto was just two. And Tyler and I love camping, though we'd just managed one trip a year out of the last three (including one when I was eight-months pregnant). Our hope is to get three camping trips in this summer.
Trip number one happened this past weekend over the Fourth of July. Serendipitously, someone Tyler works with who also has a two-year-old was camping, too, so we ended up camping together in an awesome primitive spot off the Mountain Loop Highway. Three nights out on a river, in old forest, with lots of time to relax, play All-Terrain bocce, hike, toast marshmallows, and be outside.
The kids' first "backwater baptisms" in some impressively ice cold water. Stella went back for more about four times....
The first full day we hit up the Big Four Ice Caves a second time this year, which is a ridiculously gorgeous (and kid-friendly) trip--one mile in, one mile out, flat (a mere 200 feet elevation gain) with smooth trail to walk along.
And snow and ice at the end for the kids to muck around in, not to mention wildflowers, waterfalls and a stream to splash cold water on your face as a reward for all that good walking.
The second day we hiked Heather Lake. We'd hiked it once before, with the reward of lots of salmon berries. Of all our hikes with the kids, this was the most ambitious--four-miles round trip, 1100' elevation gain, and not an easy path--lots of roots, rocks, mud, and climbing. And we didn't luck out with the best conditions--it got drizzly partway up, and I hadn't packed raincoats in our daypack. Worse yet, the salmon berries had been eaten or picked already, so the pay-off hoped for by Stella didn't quite come to fruition. But it did lend itself to a good chance to practice "making the best of it", which Stella did (ultimately) with gusto.
So beyond the camping plans, this epiphany about the outdoors also means that we let ourselves off the hook in general and spend more weekend time just hanging out in our backyard. Or our friend's backyards. Or checking out low tide.
Perfectly plotted? Almost never. Magical? Time will tell.
And it's not too shabby for some good adult bonding time, either: