There are as many translations of this saying as there are variations of it. A few days ago, my daughter invited me to join her for a walk in the woods, and it took on a whole new meaning for me. One-on-one time with my two children is rare. When her younger brother fell asleep late in the afternoon, Liv seized the chance to have her mommy to herself and to give me a glimpse of the woods from her perspective.
As we set out, I was amazed by how agile and lithe my daughter is. Watching her spindly legs trek down the steep path in girly girl shorts and UGG boots, it really hit me that she’s not a baby anymore. Though eight, she’s the size of a six-year-old and doesn’t look like she’d be strong enough to climb the steep, slippery embankments, but girlfriend left me in the dust. When I told her I needed to find a good walking stick for myself, her response was comical, especially since it was delivered in that “Uh, really” tone of voice she’s developed lately. “Did you always need a stick? I mean when you were younger?” I wanted to say, “No, I just started needing one since I entered my dotage.”
Once I’d finally slipped and slid my way to the playhouse, Liv gave me the grand tour. It consisted of the entrance ramp, a cozy corner filled with collections, an alarm system, a spot for star gazing, and get this – a zip line! Liv proudly pointed out each of these features and provided warnings, descriptions and demonstrations.
“Here’s the ramp up. Use your stick, Mommy!” (Talk about feeling geriatric). “This is the cozy corner where you can relax or read a book,” then “Check out our worms. We made a natural habitat for them by putting dirt in a kitty litter jug and leaving the lid unscrewed. And here’s a cool animal skull!” By this point, I’m thinking, Seriously? and could barely choke out an, “I see.” But I wasn’t about to touch!
Next she sounded the alarm by banging a stick against a rusted canister – “Just in case there’s an emergency and we need to alert the adults.” With the grace of a deer, she leaped from the playhouse to the stargazing deck and lay down on her back gazing up into the sky as if she could envision it full of stars. Before I could get a “Be careful!” out, she’d grabbed a rope and used it to propel herself between the two trees they’d ingeniously strung it between.
Heading back, I watched in awe as my beautiful, brave, child crossed the creek that led home. Somehow, she looked different to me. Maybe that’s because I’d learned some things about her. Like that she’s fearless, resourceful and more intelligent than I’d suspected. Things I think she’s known for a while. And wanted me to realize, too.
Walking in my daughter’s shoes and seeing the woods through her eyes, I shifted my thinking about them. And her. She doesn’t seem like a fragile porcelain baby doll any more, and I think that’s a good thing.