About a month ago, I was cleaning photos off my iPhone and I rediscovered a bunch of photos from a series of hikes I took the kids on right before we moved from Thousand Oaks.
I guess I never blogged about it because it was kind of a weird time. My head space was so full of thoughts and processing our move that I found myself needing to just get out quite a bit. I still didn’t know what to say or what I could say here. So many things were really up in the air and confusing. There were long drives along PCH with stops at Point Mugu to look out on the vast ocean and let the crashing waves try to drown out my thoughts and there were these hikes.
In retrospect, many of the hikes were much, much too difficult for a 2- and 3-year-old and a Mama with a baby strapped to her in the Ergo.
Our hikes had a lot of tears by Jilly who would throw herself on the ground and say that she hated hiking and hills and she was afraid of hills and couldn’t do it. And me saying, “Fine, I guess you’ll have to stay here in the forest,” walking a few feet away and her screaming and finally following.
I read this New Yorker article around the same time about spoiled American kids and how American kids compare from an anthropologist’s perspective to other kids around the world.
So I’ve debated whether these hikes were really a good or bad thing based on that article. I guess in a certain light they could be viewed as terribly dangerous, an example of reckless parenting, and maybe just a little bit crazy. The thing is, if they fell and got a scrape they learned to be more cautious. If they made it to the top of hard part, they always felt really proud and would say, “Look how far we’ve come, Mama! Look how high we are! Look at all the things we can see!” They learned perseverance even when things got tough, completing a task you set out to accomplish. I am sure there were other life lessons too, but those are the few that come to mind.
It got so that they started to like hiking and when we moved to Bakersfield, Jilly was disappointed and complained about the lack of interesting hills to hike on when we walked around the park one day. And then today happened.
Yesterday, Lorie texted me, “Ok. So since your kids miss ‘hiking’ wanna meet out at the bluffs tomorrow at like 8ish and ‘hike’ up and down them with our kids?” Lorie said there was a hill that made her a bit nervous. When I told Stephen about the plan, he said he was concerned and not sure it was such a good idea. I had scoped out some of the trails before from up above and figured it wasn’t anything too scary compared to some of the stuff we’d done in Thousand Oaks. I was totally on board.
At the very least we could do the walking path along the top which would be easy peasy. Except we wanted an adventure.
Adventure is what we got.
When we got to the top of the trail, Jillian threw herself down on the ground, per her usual, and started throwing a big fit about how she didn’t want to go on that hill and hated hills. The boys were all about hiking on a mountain though. So Lorie took the boys a little ways down to have a lookout. Once Jillian saw them make it and saw that they were OK, she wanted me to hold her hand and head down too. Next thing we know we have decided to go for it and we are headed down to the canal.
And then Ethan stepped off the side of the trail and rolled and Lorie dove after him and rolled too. Farther than him. Total panic and freak out. She was OK. Ethan was OK and clinging to the side of the mountain. And crying. And I couldn’t reach him. And I had a baby strapped to me. Would I put the baby down? Hand him off to the oldest kid of the bunch? Poor Ben (Lorie’s youngest, just a few months older than Ethan) screaming, “Mommy!” and inching closer to the edge. “Everyone back away from the edge, closer to the mountain!” Lorie is up behind Ethan, scoops him up and is back on the trail.
A photo op, because we take photos and everyone was OK. Just dirty. And covered in foxtails and thorns.
Now I guess it’s also worth mentioning that I’ve had a bit of a “friend crush” on Lorie for quite some time. Crafty. Lovely photog. Awesome style. Our shared love for the Pacific Northwest. Thoughtful and interesting. She turned me on to Mumford & Sons. We were just blog buddies. Though we had many mutual friends (it’s part of the Bakersfield charm that everyone knows everyone through someone), we’d only really hung out once at a Bunco night a mutual friend hosted before we moved three years ago. This was our first real hang out besides the Internet. And she just saved my kid! What an introduction! Seriously so grateful she was there. I have no idea what I would have done if she wasn’t and it makes me feel truly grateful that nothing like this happened on my other trips by myself.
Anyway, our adventure did not end there. Because we apparently don’t know when to stop. We make it to the bottom. The boys throw rocks in the canal. They would have done it all day if we let them.
But (her) Henry had to get to school. We got a little lost on the way back. Lorie carried Ben and Ethan up the hill for part of the way back. We wound up going up a way that was super steep because we took a bit of a wrong turn somewhere. But we made it back and we all collapsed on the grass. Then we had to walk back to our cars.
We both agreed that next time we’ll just do Lego Duplos at her house. After I told him what happened, Stephen said that hiking really isn’t appropriate for kids under five and that we’d better do Duplos next time. Lesson learned.