Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adjusting Expectations

I started this post in the midst of packing up my daughter for college. Visiting her this weekend reminded me of it, so I am posting it now.

On Saturday night, my 18-year-old daughter, Lauren and my husband Bill decided to go on a Sunday morning hike. Morning came and when Bill went to wake up Lauren, he found Nick as well, cuddling and fast asleep. Bill leaned over Nick and whispered to Lauren “It’s time to wake up to go hiking.” Nick opened his eyes and responded “I wanna go too.”

Plan B - four Halles are going hiking. I am hiking with Nick and Bill is hiking with Lauren. I start gathering supplies. I fill water bottles, find backpacks and grab the sunscreen. Certain that the Dad/Lauren team is going to take longer than the Mom/Nick team, I also throw in a deck of playing cards, a football, and the 39 Clues Book that Nick and I am reading. If we are going to be waiting for them to complete their hike, I want to make sure we have plenty to do.

We get to the trailhead and the setting is perfect. It is overcast, cool and surprisingly uncrowded. Nick and I walk over to the trail map and pick our route. Hiking with Nick is just like walking with Nick. The pace is steady and comfortable, not quite a saunter, but not brisk. Conversation starts slowly, but as we begin to see interesting things, it picks up. The trail we are on passes a housing development before veering off into more natural surroundings, so we spend the first part of the hike talking about how it doesn’t seem like hiking when there are houses all around us. About 20 minutes into our adventure, the houses fade and a beautiful view of mountains and the ocean appears. We are on a fairly broad and well-traveled path, so finding uncommon “points of nature” is a bit challenging. We look at flowers and cacti. We examine rocks and ridges. We see birds and evidence that other animals have crossed the trail (we can identify the horse’s gift, but I am not a scat expert, so we make guesses as to the others and decide none of it comes from a dinosaur). We talk about our favorite animals and Nick’s morning picks are alligators and snakes.

And so the hike continues. We venture off the main trail and wander for a while on a slender winding path. It is peaceful. Periodically, we come to a large downhill section of trail. Each time I say to Nick “Do you want to go down this big hill? We will have to climb back up to get to the car.” Each time Nick says “Yes!” So on we walk. Walking and talking, making up stories and looking for signs of living things bigger than flies. We lose track of time.

When we get back to the main trail, I glance at my watch and realize it is late. As we head back to the car, the sun, which had been taking its sweet time to emerge from behind the clouds is now blazingly bright. Nick changes from the black T-shirt he had picked earlier in the morning to the white T-shirt I had packed in anticipation of the heat. Despite being tired, hungry and hot, Nick keeps on hiking, sweating as he climbs back up the series of small and large hills.

My cell phone vibrates. It is Bill calling from the car and wondering where we are. Nick and I realize that we have out-hiked the Dad/Lauren team and arrange to meet them in a few minutes. We listen to a few Beatles songs for distraction on the last large hill and see Bill and Lauren waiting at the top.

When we return home, I unpack our gear and smile as I put away the unused cards, football and book. Nick is growing up and, as he does, I am going to have to increase my expectations for him. It is a thought that sits well with me after such a nice morning hike.


Starting Out                                                     Pausing for a Pic