My son doesn't like getting his hands dirty. He'll play in the dirt, fully enjoying himself, until he realizes it's dirt and then it's all over. "Mom, I'm dirty. Clean me, please."
This past weekend, we headed out after naptime on geocaching adventures like we have the last few weekends. We tell him we're finding treasures. We are. Some of them, we even get to keep (for a trade). One of them had us through some woodsy ungroomed area and required we trek about 30 feet into the sticks. And branches. And rose bush thorns. We assumed he wouldn't, so we headed in. He insisted he wanted to go in. And when he cut himself on the rose bush thorns in two places, he had a mini issue, but gave himself a spit bandaid and moved on. Progress. When he found the chicken-shaped, totally adorable geocache "treasure," he was even more excited. He trekked back out of the woods and then insisted he put it back himself. He was owning that adventure. We were bursting with pride.
As I type this, we've found 19. Only on weekends and only together.
Five years now living here, we're sort of stuck in the there's nothing to see rut. But there is. And there are adventures to be had. I desperately want my kid, who could easily sit in front of Disney movies all day without breathing air outside, to seek adventure. To go outside and explore the unknown and expose himself to what may not be comfortable.
He may not be into nature and hiking and traveling quite as much as his parents, but we would be foolish not to at least give him that exposure. If you've never been introduced, how can you fall in love?
Last weekend, we parked our car and walked within about a two-mile radius just searching for geocaches a few miles from our house. We were digging under bridges and finding our way 300 feet into the sticks in the name of adventure. We stopped at a park we discovered halfway through our adventuring and then headed out for the next treasure hunt. We finished the evening with pizza, ice cream and talking of our awesome finds.
I started a treasure jar that both kids have dug through with excitement over the last few days. There's a 10-sided dice, friendship bracelet, plastic dino, trackable zebra, a nickel, a penny, and an "astronaut," which is actually a transformer robot-looking creature. But to Benjamin, it's an astronaut. To his parents, it's a memory of us getting out as a family and enjoying being together and outside in nature to cultivate the spark of curiosity that is born in every child. And with any luck, the spark can be made into a fire and continue to burn into adulthood.
We're all hooked.
(Except maybe Claire who has no freaking idea what is going on, but loves to find things and open packages and dig through that treasure jar just like the rest of us. She's good for an adventure as long as she has 1. snacks-- girl can eat and 2. allowed to touch some of those treasures without brother snatching them up.)
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