Graysen is charging down the narrow path next to the river as Rylan and I struggle to keep up. He has a “poking stick” so he can poke at things in the water or the bushes. “Where will the path go? What will we find?” are the big questions in his mind. There are birds to look at, trees to identify, and mud to stir up.
Rylan is engaged in a different way. Up close and dirty with the rocks and mud on the riverbank. He gets caught up in the details. I let him fully explore without rushing him. We have no agenda, nowhere to be.
If I had told them we were going on a walk, they would be dragging their feet right now, asking when we could go back to the car or when we could have snack. But instead, they are fully engaged in our “explore.” The idea came from Winnie the Pooh, I cannot claim it as my own. But it has helped us get outside and engage in nature. Luckily, in Cleveland, there is actually a lot for us to explore.
We make it down to a boat launch area and find a handicap accessible kayak launch. We talk about how it works and why it is important. The boys see some ducks and race over to have a closer look. There are different sizes and colors and we try to identify them using a placard about ducks.
There are some guys fishing off of a concrete wall so we sit down on a bench to watch them and eat our snack. They are only catching tiny ones, so after a while we decide to go look at the boats in the marina. As we walk down we notice that they are taking a boat out of the water with a special forklift tractor. We stop to watch how they do it and they wave at us when they go by.
We pass some more fishermen and watch one of them pull in a catfish. He shows it to the boys before he releases it back into the water. We watch it swim away and disappear into the murky water. A little further down the trail ends and the boys are ready to head back to the car. As we turn around I see a little snake dart into the water.
On our way back, we stop to read another placard about the shale in the cliffs across the river. I am talking to them about what it means when a woman walks by and says, “Good job, mom!” I am bursting with pride. I am doing a good job! At least right now! Sometimes I lack the patience to slow down and be in the moment with the kids. But not today. Today is about letting my children take the lead to discover what interests them. Today I am dropping my agenda so I can see the world through their eyes. And what a really cool and interesting world it is!