I’m a walker. I love how it’s basically a super easy exercise that gets me outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. Even better, it shakes loose all the tension and packed in thoughts. It gets me working through problems and best yet, it helps me work out story – scenes, plot points, characters, dialogue – all of it. And, to make it more of a “workout”, I take looong walks. 50-60 minutes, when I can.
This summer, however, I’ve kind of given some of that up. Not all of it, mind you, just some – for now. I’ve replaced it with shorter morning walks with my 10-year-old.
Part of me misses my long, solitary walks. I do still take them on the weekends and the only one to blame for not taking them during other days is myself. And changing up this activity is definitely my choice. Part of why I changed it is that while Youngest Child does sleep in on these summer days, he still doesn’t sleep as long as Middle and Oldest Child, which means, in spite of my best efforts, Youngest Child is drawn to the screen instead of many other, more worthwhile activities. And so, I decided that to encourage him to at least get moving and spend a little more time outside, I voluntold him to join me for daily, morning walks.
Not gonna lie, he was unenthused the first two days. I chose shorter routes and let him make some decisions on where we would go, of course, too. And, Youngest Child being who he is – ie: Joyful Child, Never-Upset-For-Long Child – there was never any sulking on those first couple of days. He still bounced. He still had cheerful conversation.
By Day 3, he finished breakfast and said, “I’m ready for our walk!”
That was easy.
If this were a middle grade novel or an NBC family drama, the next part of this post would describe our amazing conversations on those walks and how it’s really bonded us together. Look how close we are with our mother-son relationship now!
Youngest Child and I already have a pretty good relationship (because he’s not a teenager, yet). And while it would be cool to say we’ve embarked on some deep conversations, we have not, and whatever, I don’t care about that at all. Unraveling the mysteries of his life – or lack thereof at this point in his life – was never a goal. We chat like we would even just sitting around at home, and sometimes we don’t chat at all. And that means I still get my brain-wanderings… and so does he. He has an active imagination, so our silences together are not stifling or uncomfortable.
While sometimes I might rather take a longer walk on my own, ultimately, I enjoy this routine of ours. I like that I’m helping him get moving and I like the companionship. I like his random observations, even if he doesn’t have them every day. I like this way of hanging out together, especially since as he enters middle school, he will start that process of slipping away from us, which makes all parents both sad and proud at the same time. I like the motivation to get myself moving, too, instead of thinking “maybe I’ll take a walk later” and letting “later” get to be “not at all” because I let other things take priority.
And so, this activity turns into a conscious decision and activity for seeking out grace. It doesn’t just fall into our laps, you know. 😀
I think we all have small things like this that we share with each of our individual children. What is one that you share with yours? Or one that you have shared as a child with an important adult in your life?
Lyrics like part quoted below from Joshua Radin’s “We Are Okay” are what keep us connected to younger, more innocent days… and summer, don’t you think?
“Build me a home from a cardboard box
Many windows never locked
This is how we used to play
Shorter nights and longer days
With faith we would not fade away”