Follow the Leader

As a follow up to last week’s A Taste of My Own Medicine….

OK so I’ve woken up to myself. I remembered something important.  My children take my lead.  

My reluctance to allow Deflector to take part in this hike is only going to make him feel reluctant to take part in any future hike.
My response to something new, teaches my kids how to respond to something new.

They follow the leader.

When I respond with fear, they too, respond with fear.
When I question my child’s ability, he does too.
When I question his desire to challenge himself, he does too.
When I doubt him, he doubts himself.

Thankfully, I caught myself before I inadvertently let the “Crazy Mother” cat out of the bag. Instead I sat him down and said “Do you really want to do this?” and when he said “Yes, I really do” Then I knew.
I knew I had to lead by example. I had to be excited, and uplifting and encouraging. I had to show him the path to tread. I had to say “I know you can do it”

But saying and knowing are two different things.
So, the mission is clear. A trial run with two objectives.

  1. To put “crazy mother” mind at rest. To establish my child’s physical capability of carrying a heavy pack whilst walking quite a distance.
  2. To provide a safe environment to practice the skills required and build his confidence.

 Confidence is Key.
A confident child displays a belief in his own abilities.

“Yeah I can walk for 3 days. Of course I can”

Of Course. How silly of me.
So how do we nurture this self-confidence in our children?
We start by encouraging them to take a leap. Or, in this case, a Hike.

Our Test run is the beautiful Two Bays Track between Dromana and Bush Rangers Bay.
We start at CapeSchanck Light House because the views are breathtaking. The plan is to walk to Limestone Road, we estimate about 12km. Perfect, Deflector will be walking between 6 and 13km per day on his scout hike.  If he can manage this hike, he can manage the scout hike.

 Its raining before we even get out of the car and I have to force myself to move because the idea of walking for 6 hours in the rain appeals to me about as much as shopping on Christmas Eve.

So we don our lovely plastic ponchos and set off. The first 5km is absolutely breathtaking. The views of Bush Rangers Bay are incredible. If the weather had been nice, I would have been in heaven.

We pass a few families on this stretch of the track, with little kids in gumboots and raincoats. Hubby tells the boys to walk single file on the narrow tracks.

“Single file? The only file I know about is a computer file”
-Captain Clumsy

 We found a comfortable rhythm and made it to the 5km mark at Flinders Rd, within 90 minutes and without a hitch.
Deflector is managing the pack well. No complaints at all, he’s still smiling and I have to say, I am surprised.

After a brief stop we start to move again and that’s when we realise that what we thought was 12km is more like 14km. We have 9km to go. Cool. No problem, the boys are loving it, and apart from the rain, I am too.
The terrain starts to change from ocean side cliff face to fernery and rainforest. We never knew we had this beauty on our backdoor step and we resolve to do this more often.

When it isn’t raining.


 We’re so busy spotting Kangaroos and picking up Captain Clumsy when he trips on roots, mud, his own two feet, that the next 9km and 3 hours goes rather quickly.

It’s not until we get to the 14km mark that we realise, umm….we’re still in the scrub and the sky is becoming pink. It’s beautiful, really. But we still have about 4km to go.

“Mum I really love walking, but don’t you think you’re taking this a little too far?”
-The Actor

 When you’ve got three kids that thought this was the end, and clearly this is not the end, you might begin to have some trouble. This is when they start to lose their marbles. Not in a Whiney-I Don’t Want To Do This- Kill Me Now fashion, it’s more like a sugar high. Silly voices, uncontrollable laughter and slap stick comedy. Mum and Dad might not have been so receptive to the The 3 Stooges Comedy Gig at this point.

This is the juncture where you stop walking around the puddles and just walk right through the middle of them. This is where the mission becomes Head Down- Bum Up-Lets Get Outta Here. There’s no more spotting Kangaroos, there’s no more looking for pretty pink flowers.

Mum and Dad have their Captain and First Officer hats on.

For the last 4km Hubby was fighting the urge to take the pack from Deflector, he had done his 14km, he had done it without complaint. But we knew, that if he didn’t get to the finish line with that pack on his back, he would feel like he had failed, he would feel like he couldn’t do it. So despite the fact that we saw him wilting, and wanted to make the last stretch easier on him, we didn’t want to take away his sense of achievement.

By the time we get to Limestone Rd, the moon has risen and the sky is inky.

We parked where we thought the track came out, sadly we were wrong. Oh so wrong. Another 2km at least. This is where Captain Clumsy wants to sit in the dirt and wait for the rescue helicopter. But to my absolute surprise he just keeps going. He’s talking to himself though, I think he might be slightly delusional, but as I get closer I realise he’s chanting

“I can do this, I am resilient, I can do this, I am resilient”

One proud Mama right here.

We know the objectives for this mission have been succesfully completed before we even see the dim outline of the car in the dark.  

At first it’s like an illusion.
Captain Clumsy breaks into a run with what I imagine is his last drop of energy.

“My mind wants to run but my body won’t let me”

We don’t have a photo of the finish line, It was dark and just as I turned the flash on the battery died. By that stage we didn’t really care.

 As a Parent we play an enormous role in our children’s world. We are the barometer. Our children look to us for guidance. They look to us to learn how to feel and how to behave and how to believe in this world.  
I would never want to undermine the confidence my children have in their own capability. Even when it’s something scary, like an unsupervised – 3 day- 31km hike, which incidentally is a 5 hour drive from home.

I just have to take a deep breath and give them a good clear path to follow.

This entry was posted in Kid Wrangling, Life and Other Mysteries. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Follow the Leader

  1. Jennie says:

    Way to go Stams! You are dead right Rach, we are the mirrors our kids see themselves in, what a great pair of mirrors your kids have.

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