Freedom! To Roam.
One of my favorite cartoons was Family Circus where the oldest boy, Billie, asked if he could walk by himself down the block in his neighborhood to visit a friend.
Billie appeared to be about 7.
His Mom surprisingly said yes, and Billie was excited!
Off he goes down the street on the sidewalk, very proud of himself that he was now old enough to walk there without any adult supervision – freedom!
What the cartoonist showed at every step of the way, was his mother hiding behind a tree, then a bush, then a hedge, watching him secretly as he journeyed on.
I remembered that cartoon as we were hiking along Rainbow trail on our way to the Mt. LeConte Lodge; I had hiked this trail many times before our sons were born.
I had equipped each son with a backpack, water, gorp, etc.
They were about 7 and full of energy; they would run ahead, then wait on us “old folks” to catch up – then run ahead again.
Eventually they got tired of waiting and asked if they could just run ahead to the Lodge and wait for us there.
Water – check, snacks – check, trail clearly marked with no side trails – check; weigh risk against reward – check; reward wins.
I said yes – go ahead.
With great glee, my intrepid explorers zoomed up the trail.
When our entourage finally arrived, there they were, asking “what took you so long? We have been here for hours!”
Freedom to roam – our sons had a bountiful supply of that – and you can see the benefits in their love of the outdoors today.