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Monday, September 25, 2006

The Hike

My son, Nathan, was commenting the other day about his two hamsters. "Mom, they have totally unique personalities. One is calm and likes to be held, the other is wild and always on the go. "

"Just like kids," I responded. "No two are exactly the same." Or should I say no "three," because I witnessed this in my kids this own week.

On Labor Day we took time off and went for a seven-mile hike. (3 1/2 miles each way, and it was the most laborous thing I've done all year!) I had to chuckle because my kids' personalities on the trail were a perfect example of their personalities in life.

(And just as a side note, or perhaps rabbit trail, I DID have a proposal due to a publishing house the next day, but I chose to leave the computer and join my family. Yes, the proposal was a day late, but we had a day we won't forget. Choices, choices.)

On the hike, Cory took the lead. At age seventeen, and a first born, he has to be, uh, first . . . always. He set the pace and forged ahead.

Of course, he had to watch out because his sister was hot on his tail. Even though Leslie is three years younger, it has always been this way. My daughter has never been the ruffles and lace girl that I always imagined I'd have. She had no time for girl stuff, she was too busy keeping up with Cory. Even at age 3, she was reading . . . for the very fact I was teaching her brother. Even last year, Leslie skipped ahead a few grades in school because she looked at Cory's work and declared, "I can do that."

On the trail it was no different. She stayed not more than one step behind her brother at all times. Then, when she'd think she'd have a chance, she'd attempt to bolt ahead. Unfortunately, her brother is still quicker, and even if she did get past him, he was strong enough to literally pick her up and set her back in place.

Then there is my sweet boy, Nathan. I've always said he's the easiest kid ever to raise. He's kind and thoughtful. He's never much trouble because he's content wherever he's at, even if it's behind everyone else. He has nothing to prove and won't fight for first place. On the trail, he trudged behind--dead last--happy to chat with his mom and dad, unconcerned with the struggle of the other two ahead.

Years ago, I was wasn't so comfortable with these differences in my kids. I pushed Nathan too much, while at the same time trying to get the other two to slow down and stop their frantic pace for first. I attempted to mold them into something they weren't . . . something I envisioned the "perfect" children would be like.

My kids refused to be perfect.

Then, God started talking to me, and I realized (duh) that He didn't make my kids as totally empty vessals--ones in which I needed to fill with all the stuff I think is important. Instead, He created them as unique individuals, and it was my job not to forge their paths (or to scream directions every step of the way), but to make sure they stayed on the trail. What a concept!

Of course, when it comes to actual hiking, even keep them on the trail is a challenge. We hiked to a waterfall, you see, and guess who wanted to hike to the top? And guess who wanted to join her big brother?

The picture above is Cory and Leslie looking down on the rest of us from the top of Morrell Falls. To put it in perspective, below is a photo of Nathan and I. You can still see Cory and Leslie as tiny dots just left of the top center.
You can also see where Nathan and I considered best . . . still on the bottom, sitting on a comfortable log, cheering them on, but content to watch them forge ahead.

Tricia Goyer

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