Several years ago Ken and I realized that our kids love experiences. We started to give them the choice between a birthday party and an experience for their birthday. We have done things like go to Lego-land or purchase annual passes to the zoo. We’ve also had years where they wanted a party, but the ones they talk about and remember the most are the years they chose experiences.
This year, my twins are turning ten and ended up choosing different experiences. C’s love language is definitely quality time. It was not surprising to me that she wanted to take a long hike for her birthday. Our family loves to hike! We go out every weekend that we can, and often hike a couple miles. But C is always still chomping to go further when the rest of the kids are ready to turn back.
A few times I have taken her just a little further while the others rested before we turned back, but she is always wishing for more. So, this week I told her we would go out just the two of us and she could be in charge of when we turned back.
I wasn’t sure how far she would be able to go, but the farthest we had ever gone was five miles. So I mentally prepared myself for about an eight mile hike, and we chose a trail that was eight and a half miles. I figured we would be exhausted at the end, but she would be thrilled to hike to the crest (if we made it) and I thought I could push myself that much.
There was snow when we got higher up, and she threw snowballs at trees and wrote her initials in almost every snow patch we passed. At this point I was starting to get really tired, but I know that the trip down is always easier. I also knew (or so I thought) that we hadn’t gone even four miles since the whole trip to the crest was supposed to be a little over four miles.
Once we got to the switchbacks the trail was solid snow and we were not prepared. I had told her that if it turned to ice we would have to turn back since we were wearing tennis shoes, but it never did. Still we were crunching through three or four inches of snow and getting super cold.
Our map on my phone showed that we were so close to the crest, but because of the switchbacks it was much further than we thought. Finally, I could tell that C was getting really tired and we talked, and she decided we should turn back.
I always check my steps when we turn around so we can know how far we went. I wanted her to be proud that when she got back to the car she had walked eight miles, but when I looked we had already walked five and half miles. Instead of being a little over four miles to the crest it was over 5.5! No wonder we were so tired!
The trip down was pretty rough! I never planned on doing eleven miles, and if she had known I think she would have turned back sooner as well. We did meet some people on the way down that told us the crest was completely iced over, so that made us feel a little better that we couldn’t have made the crest anyway.
C is not the type of kid that seeks out one on one time with me. She has never been the kid who crawls in bed with me or snuggles on the couch. Her face lights up if I dog pile her on the couch when she has been feeling grumpy. She still talks about the time that I stopped at Starbucks with her two years ago on a grocery trip that just included the two of us.
She loves when I ask her opinion and she loves anything that makes her feel like a grown up. Sometimes we run together and she eats up the time with just me. Even at mile five she still had a skip in her step because “this is her best birthday yet.”
Sometimes I don’t quite know what to do with a kid who is so strong willed, yet so caring. But I have found out that one thing I can do is hike. Don’t get me wrong I love hiking, but by the time we crawled the last half mile to our car I was about ready to swear it off. I’ll probably reconsider once my aching legs stop being sore. C was already planning the next one.
It is a prayer of mine that God will show me how to be a good steward of my relationship with each child I have. This turned out to be an amazing day! A day neither one of us will ever forget.