When Toddlers Go Hiking

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Recently my family went on vacation to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. On our first day we went on a hike with our two girls. The eldest is three, and the youngest is almost one. Since we had only one off-road stroller, we placed the baby in the stroller and had the three-year-old walk. We were a few minutes in, and I was wishing the eldest was in the stroller. All she wanted to do was play in the red sand and rocks along the pathway. I kept nudging her to move along telling her there was more to see.

“Come on baby, let’s see what’s up ahead! There’s bigger rocks where we’re going.” She would say, “Okay!” and trot along for a brief spell only to stop and play in the sand and rocks again. I sighed. We would walk a few steps, stop. Walk a few steps, stop. Progress was painfully slow. When I usually walk, I don’t mess around. I guess I’m a walk with a purpose kind of gal. Either for exercise or to a destination. So, it was difficult for me to make all these stops. I tried to convince her that there was more to see up ahead and that we needed to keep walking.

After about ten minutes and 100 yards of walking, I stopped and just watched her for a moment. As I grew increasingly impatient, I thought, maybe I’m meant to learn something from this. Okay, I paused. What am I meant to learn? As I stood there, I thought maybe this is one of those times I’m meant to understand that the “journey is just as important as the destination.” We were walking to enjoy the beautiful weather and epic scenery. We weren’t walking to plant a flag in the summit; we were just walking to walk.

So I looked up. I took a deep breath of the cool mountain air, breathed in the view and watched with new eyes as my three year old threw sand and rocks up in the air with a laugh. I laughed as well. I shrugged my shoulders as I said to my husband, “I suppose we’re taking our time today.” “I guess so,” he laughed in reply.

Now that I’d allowed myself the realization we weren’t in a hurry, I bent down to talk to my three year old about the rocks. She was having a blast. So I just stood there while she played in the sand. When she moved forward, we moved forward. When she stopped, we all stopped, chatting and enjoying our time along the way.

When we started out, I thought about what I was going to miss because we were spending so much time waiting for her to play in the dirt. I thought about the parts of the trail that I wouldn’t get to see which got me increasingly frustrated. Then, after I’d settled myself to the idea that we were taking our time today, I thought about what I almost missed when I was so hell-bent on moving along. I would have missed my daughter’s pure glee at playing in red sand and rocks. I would have missed her giggles, and probably made her cry by rushing her. I would have missed the casual conversation and laughter at the simple joy of driving ten hours to play in the sand.

I would have missed the eagle flying in the sky above if I hadn’t stopped and just looked around. I might have missed giving her a memory by allowing her to just be, by allowing what was happening to unfold without trying to plan it, to keep walking, to get there. Had I not stopped and asked what was I meant to learn, I might have missed it. I am so grateful she made me stop, take the time to pause and ask. So grateful for the memory of our sweet, slow walk in the mountains and our silly little girl who had a blast playing with the rocks.

I’d love to hear from you. Share about a time you were forced to stop and wait in the comments below.

The greatest compliment you can give me is to share my work. If you enjoyed reading this and know someone who might like it, please share. If you have an idea for a future post or a question for me, comment below or email me at pixiedustandwhiskey@gmail.com.

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Copyright © 2016 Katherine J. Wheeler. All rights reserved.

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Author: pixiedustandwhiskey

Hi there! I’m Katherine, a former higher education professional turned housewife, blogger and entrepreneur. My blog is about finding happily ever after in the middle of the mundane, using gratitude and a positive mindset to turn the ordinary into extraordinary. I like to tell stories, so this is a collection of short stories, some true, some fiction, to hopefully inspire more happiness in this broken world.

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