Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting Outside with the Little Ones

We are parents who like to believe we can still play outside even though we have little ones. We recognize that preparing for the adventure can take as long as the adventure itself and that to many more rational parents, the effort just isn’t worth it.

Sometimes, we, ourselves, wonder why we’re going through so much trouble. Backpacking was one of those experiences. Did I really notice anything while carrying an 80 pound backpack stuffed with diapers and backcountry gear? Andy and I still debate this one. The only thing we do know is that everyone is happier when we at least try to get out, even if we fail.

Chapter one was the jogging stroller. Chapter two: the chariot—a device that opened the world of biking and nordic skiing. Chapter three: the strap-on skis—key to getting your one-year old on downhill boards. And now, we enter chapter four: sea kayaking.


I was nervous about sending Siri, my 5-year old, out in a kayak until Andy posed this question: on a calm day when everyone is in lifejackets and we’re ten feet from shore, what’s the worst that can happen? And I couldn’t think of anything.

Siri had a blast. Here are some things she did in thirty minutes: observed seagulls landing on their marine nests, watched scores of ducks shuttling home, felt the wake of a lobster boat, came to understand that lobster buoys were not toy balls that we could take home, and most importantly, ran her hands along the side of the boat and felt the cool, jade water.

Andy discovered things as well, mainly how difficult it is to paddle a double-kayak in headwinds around the point. Yet he also found a new sailboat he covets in the harbor and got to be proven right: it really isn’t that big a deal to throw our little one in a kayak. And in fact, look how thrilled we all were. That is until the wheelies on the kayak trailer broke and we had to lug the kayak through some poison ivy.

But thankfully, that’s where grandparents come in handy, once again, watching our children while we tugged and heaved the boat to dry land. Someday, the pre and post-work of an adventure will be shorter that the actual trip. Until then, we’ll keep trying. The adventure’s still worth it.

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