Thursday, 8 March 2018

Wild Moments: The precious privilege of cultivating the spirit of adventure in a young heart.

** Another 'Wild Moment' considering something close to my heart - family, children and introducing them to the natural world and adventure **

Life is busy, isn't it? I'm sure it's not just mine. Commitments pile up, calendars fill and free time dwindles at an ever increasing pace. I often talk of needing to 'make' time and it sometimes does feel like a significant project to engineer opportunities for time out of doors, or for 'an adventure'. Adding children to that mix doesn't make it easier (or cheaper) - 'bed time' is suddenly 4 or 5 hours earlier; a 'good nights sleep' becomes an exception rather than an expectation; a 'walk' with a toddler can be considered long if you leave the car park rather than the county!

BUT - and it is a big one - as a parent you have an opportunity to plant the spirit of adventure in a fresh heart, and to see the excited twinkle of exploration in new eyes. I have always loved the outdoors, I still do, and I am fairly confident that I always will. I still enjoy spending that time in the natural world alone and at my own pace (which I like to think is reasonably quick... unless I'm taking photos). But there are very few things I enjoy more than witnessing the excitement in the eyes of our children when they are presented with the opportunity to do something new, something adventurous! Adventurous to them is at a different place on the spectrum than it is for me, of course it is. After all every one starts somewhere - Sir Edmund Hilary didn't start with Everest, nor was Amelia Earhart's first flight an around the world venture. *Add your favourite example of an intrepid adventurer here*. 

As parents we have tried (there is still a lot we could do better) to cultivate that adventurous spirit in our children because we hope that if we start them young that it will sink deep and they will seek 'adventure' for the rest of their lives. Yes, there are times when this meets with resistance: 'it's too cold', 'it's too wet', 'it's too windy', 'it's too sandy'. But that resistance will weaken over time. Our daughter once spent a whole warm, summer day on the beach sat in a folding chair with her feet on a towel because she refused point blank to get sand on her feet! The following year we visited a Scottish beach in April (it was much colder!) and she loved it! She played in it, rolled down sand dunes, dug holes and jumped in them - when we got back to where we were staying there was sand everywhere. Stick with it and the resistance will fade.

I was 24 when our daughter was born - that is pretty young these days to have a first child and I often have conversations where the reaction to learning this (sometimes spoken and sometimes inferred) is that my opportunities for fun therefore ended at 24. But I see it entirely differently. The way I see it is that when she becomes a teenager I'll still only be 37 (and 40 when our little boy becomes a teenager). Hopefully I will still be fit enough at that relatively young age that I will still be able to keep up with them when they take that spirit of adventure which we have instilled in them and want to do something really interesting!

So yes we may have sacrificed some of our perceived freedom as young adults to have a family early. But to me, rather than missing opportunities for fun and adventure, we have created the opportunity further down the road to share our fun and adventure with the people who matter most to us - our children.


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