As a child, I remember starting a lot of things that I never finished. In fact, I admit to this even happening as an adult. As a child, I set out to write a novel, and 12 pages into it, the book idea would be shelfed (pun intended). I did this many times. I also set out to build a pond in our backyard (and dug it out, but didn’t follow through when I realized I needed more materials understanding to make the pond bed less permeable). I’d set out to invent, just like my dad did, but could never make it past an idea or rough prototype. And then there’s the very memorable formal dress I once made that I had to finish with staples – not enough time to sew each seam (thank goodness it held for the entirety of the formal dance we had on a boat in San Francisco Bay; it didn’t survive when my dorm-mates had to remove those staples to get me out of it). As an adult, I’d set out to complete what seemed to be an easy do-it-yourself project, like to grow an elaborate garden. Seeds would be sprouting in the corner of the kitchen, then transplanted to the garden, but then in the much busier spring, I’d ignore the bracing of unruly vines or bolting shoots, and the garden would be jeopardized to have young fruits rot on the wet ground or break stems with their weight. Most of my summer bounty would be bought from the grocer.
Now as a mom, I wonder if my negligence of initial dreams or lack of follow-through is heritable. Yes, I have learned to follow through, and even to complete projects with gusto, but I feel sometimes that what is truly inherent to my nature is to let things slide. Who doesn’t love an easy way out? We all look forward to meals ordered out and someone doing work so we don’t have to. Sundays are celebrated for exactly what is endorsed – a day of rest.
Even if we’re inclined to be lazy, being a parent is often motivation enough to get us off our feet and doing more with our kids. Stroller Hikes certainly motivated me to get outside to hike, explore, splash, climb, and ride with my kids, and they crave outdoor time for all of these things, regularly. Stroller Hikes has contributed to my health and theirs, and flavors each of our perceptions about what is possible in the world.
Max and Holly clearly have their own dreams. Max wants to write a hiking book, complete with his own text and photos, an admirable task for a second grader. He’s been talking about this off and on for months, and I entirely expect the idea to wane, just like my novel enterprises did when I was younger. He also has a dream to get his black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Knowing how much work it will take to get that far – learn Korean, to retain focus for hours at a time (we’re still working on minutes), to develop intuitive and thorough control of muscles, balance, and an opponent’s strategy (sparring is on the horizon) – this is one HUGE goal. I took Judo for several months at the end of my high school career. I also had initial grand dreams about what I could do. But my accomplishments in Judo only really include knowing how to fall.
Max wowed us all this week by making a big step towards his goal. He’s been in Tae Kwon Do for over a year, going to class up to three times per week. On Friday, he tested for his Yellow Belt. In a very serious, structured oral and physical exam, he spoke in Korean, showed intent and focus for an extended period of time, attacked and defended, demonstrated kicks and punches, and presented a long, strictly choreographed form. When he was a “Little Tiger,” I could effectively coach him on his moves. Now I preface any advice with, “Well, I don’t know Tae Kwon Do, but…” because his abilities and what he is being asked to do are more complex than I can easily wrap my head around. He’s amazing.
Maybe writing a book is on the horizon. Heritable or not, Max is doing some pretty cool things. I’m starting to look at my kids differently now – they are growing up, coming into their own. However, I never neglect to realize the value of my leadership in their lives. Max took on the big brother role last night when Holly eagerly donned his new Tae Kwon Do sparring gear. He coached her through some disciplined stances before they started sparring on their own, literally rolling on the floor in laughter and a tangle of limbs with foam helmets and shin and arm guards.
-Debbie (President and Founder, Stroller Hikes), Max (7), Holly (3), and Andrew