Tuesday, October 2, 2012

more adventuring (and a challenge)

Parfrey's Glen (yesterday)
  The autumn weather has been lovely lately and we have been having grand hiking adventures day after day.  We hiked Parfrey's Glen yesterday with friends.  It was gorgeous, off-trail ambitious, and amazingly beautiful.

As lovely and peaceful as the setting was, the hike wasn't without drama.  One of my girls (ahem, the eldest) dipped her rain boots (with her feet in them) in the stream when she slipped and they filled with cold stream water.  She hiked barefoot for a bit, but was later completely overwhelmed by a seemingly unrelated incident involving her younger sister.  This sensitive girl, who can be (but isn't always) thrown into a blind panic because of uncomfortable sensations (wet, cold, sticky, muddy, etc.) filled with angry intensity and lashed out and ran off.  I know her well enough to know that she wouldn't knowingly endanger herself even in this state, but it was scary and uncomfortable to see her so clearly overwhelmed and upset and not be able to change it for her.

I was grateful for the calm, gracious presence of our unschooling friends.  When she was back, and coming through to the other side of her upset, we all let her know that we loved her.  The message was NOT 'I accept and love you, but not your actions'.  It was 'I accept and love you AND your intense emotions'.  I know it must be so difficult to be a small body with such big, powerful, overwhelming feelings.  This does not make you bad, it makes you someone who is equally capable of big love, big kindness and creativity.  You are loved for YOU, not just your easy, friendly aspects.

This attitude of radical acceptance is not the same as telling our children 'it's OK to hurt others' feelings' or 'go ahead and freak out and be mean to get your way'.  My intense daughter knows that this isn't a good idea.  She would in a heartbeat choose to react differently if it were currently within her capabilities.  Today, she thanked me for helping her learn how to manage these strong, angry feelings.  I told her that she would likely always feel things, both good and bad, in a big way, and that I was very proud of her for being able to come back, and apologize, even though she felt hugely embarrassed in the moment.  I told her that if she was so aware of herself and her challenges at the age of 9, she would surely continue to learn how to either avoid situations that were unnecessarily challenging or get better at finding appropriate outlets for her intensity.  It wouldn't always be so hard.

I don't always get it exactly right, or say the right words in the moment.  I need time to decompress afterwards and process my own feelings about the situation, but that is part of the journey too.  We affect each other and learn together how to make better choices when possible.

I choose helping, over shaming.  I choose trust, over condemnation.  I choose to nurture relationship and compassion, over punishment and doled-out consequences.

Merrimac Ferry (today)
Today was a new day, as it always is.  The girls adored driving onto the ferry to cross the river.  It never gets old.

 Aldo Leopold Nature Center (today)
Camille and Sylvia happily tromped off with the some of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center staff for a homeschool class.  This week they mostly learned about seed dispersal.  They played games and hiked.  They planted seeds in 'living lockets' and gathered nature materials on bracelets made from clear packing tape turned inside out on their wrists, and later covered with another layer of tape.
Ayla felt a little lost without her big sisters around a kept asking, "where are the girls?" until my friend pulled a tape measure out of her purse and then she got busy 'measuring' the stumps.
After their 2-hour class was over we all explored the hiking trails and ponds.
Now if only my dishes and laundry were magically doing themselves while we were out grand-adventuring, I could continue this string of hiking and soaking up the sun, the colors, the earthen scents, the sound of stream water trickling over rocks, the giggles and wonder, and, yes, even the stressful moments.  

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful pictures of your hike! And what a blessing to have a Momma that loves unconditionally!


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