Last evening we started out from our house like we have many times previously. We ambled slowly across the field behind the house. My son walking slowly, stopping and taking photos of the timothy and clover and the setting sun; my daughter running about trying to wear down the puppy's energy. We make it to the small stream behind the house and explore the gravel bar and let the dogs play in the water. My daughter steps out onto a log, like she has a few times before. The pup decides to follow her and falls in and we all laugh a little as the dog struggles back onto the log and back to shore. It really was comical looking.
The comedy quickly changes to drama however. The dog had made the log wet and slippery and as my daughter made her way back to shore, she slipped and fell into the stream. Now, she didn't fall right in but manged to catch herself on the log and only got wet up to her knees and a little on her coat. The water was cold and the October air was cool so almost immediately she started trembling.
At this point my actions are going to be controversial maybe. I didn't want to make it a bigger deal than it was so I calmly helped her out of the stream and onto shore. I asked her if she was alright and she said yes. I asked her if she wanted to continue on the walk and she adamantly said no. At this point the dogs still had tons of energy and we had only been walking 10 minutes so I wanted to continue. Ready? Here is the hard part. I saw an opportunity to show my daughter how tough and independant she could be and so I suggested she walk back to the house on her own and get changed and meet us a little further along our walk. It was harsh but I didn't want a small thing like falling in a creek to get the best of her. I realize at 10 years old this can be tramautizing but to that point she hadn't been crying, seemed physically fine, and I know she is tough.
|My daughter on a hike we did last fall.
Tears started to form in her eyes but I stayed calm and held my ground. I told her she could easily get home and I would meet her there in a bit to restart our journey. She too held her ground and had made up her mind that she wanted to change and was not hiking furher in wet socks and sneakers so she headed off for home. As I watched her turn back to the house I was proud and torn and the same time.
My son wanted to help his sister and offered to walk back with her but I insisted she could go on her own. As she headed off he and I headed the other way to take an alternate, slightly longer route to the house where we met back up with my daughter who had changed and was ready to go again when we got there. Our evening wander from that point was uneventful and enjoyable as we talked about the fall colors, we saw deer and hunters ironically, and simply enjoyed watching the dogs chase crickets and each other.
Later that night I tucked my daughter into bed and I made a point about telling her how proud I was of her. How I admired the way she handled the situation that evening. She said she was embarassed and felt like she let me down but I encouraged her telling her that she took a tough situation, made a decision to come home, stuck to it, and then overcame the obstacle. Then she looked at me and said "I wasn't going to let the brook ruin a good night for a hike." At that point I was relieved because I think she fully embraced the moment and the character building I was trying to create, whether she knew it or not.
Being a dad can be a challenge but when things like this work out, I am thankful.