One of the benefits of my wife being unemployed (yes, she’s a victim of the tea party) is that the whole family has been able to spend more time together. Today we went to Cincinnati’s largest state park to play on the playground and wander the nature trails. It’s the sort of luxury that we couldn’t afford with both of us working, and little adventures help us forget the stress of finding new sources of income.
My daughters were struggling at the playground to cross the monkey bars with the dangling rings. They would make it half way and then lose their grip, but I was impressed with their tenacity to keep trying. So, in an effort to sweeten the deal, I offered $1 to them both if they could make it all the way across. I know that kids should be motivated intrinsically, but I could see that they were determined to cross whether I offered money or not. Cash just made it more fun. I ended up paying them both for accomplishing their goal; it was well worth the money.
When we started our walk on the nature trail, Juliet looked up at me and whined about the callous that had formed on her hands from hanging on the rings. I told her not to worry, that callouses are something to be proud of because they show that you worked hard. I told her that if she went through life with princess hands then that would mean she would have never tried something difficult.
Along the path, my wife suggested that we go off trail to follow a dry stream downhill to it’s parent stream. Sasha said she didn’t want to go away from the path. It looked dangerous and scary (it really wasn’t). After much cajoling and hand holding, I told her to think of going off trail as building a callous for her mind. Yes, it’s tough doing something that scares you, but once you commit to following through on the adventure, you will make yourself more brave and that callous will form over your fears. After all, you don’t want to go through life with a princess brain.
Once she relaxed, we had quite an adventure: discovering fossilized shells, searching for amphibians, spotting a woodpecker, and even coming across a raccoon (the coolest thing Juliet’s EVER seen). It may not always be the smartest thing to go off trail, and I did make that clear, but in the context of a family nature hike, it was just the calloused decision that my little princesses will keep in their piggy bank of memories… right next to that dollar they earned on the playground.