Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Allow me to over generalize by saying that all children are drawn to the outdoors like bugs to a light. There may be exceptions, but for the most part, from an early age, children would rather go outside than stay indoors. Just look at the windows two feet off the ground in a house with toddlers. Hand prints and nose smudges are the norm as the child wonders at nature in the backyard.
Embrace this desire to get dirty early, but more importantly, realize that things aren’t going to go as planned. For every perfect picture of a family smiling beside a campfire, there is an untold story of sibling fights and car sickness on the way to the camp site.
Our pastor has talked about the “Pixelated myth” of social media. Life is not as perfect as Instagram or Pinterest portrays it. Take for instance this photo.
It may not be the best view or put together photo, but it is one I cherish fondly. On the surface, it looks like a father took his two-year-old son duck hunting. That’s true, and it’s easy to imagine that the trip went off without a hitch.
What can’t be seen is the amount of ducks I missed an opportunity to shoot because I was getting snacks. Or, my soggy waders from our over excited Lab who decided to try and climb on my back while wading in chest deep water.
What also can’t be seen is, right when the ducks started to fly, I hear the words that all parents know too well. “I’ve got to go potty”. Facilities to answer the call of nature are few and far between in the middle of an oxbow lake. My young son learned a valuable lesson on using the restroom from a floating vessel and why you never leave home without toilet paper.
So yeah, I could just post that picture and let you assume that the trip went perfectly. But the fact is, with any photo you see of children in the outdoors, it was not as perfect as it seems.
Don’t let this hold you back from taking them outdoors. Yes, it’s tougher than going solo, but once you feed the desire of the toddler smudging the window with her nose, you stoke a fire that will burn for the rest of their life.
The “pixelated myth” of social media is rampant. If you are nervous to get the young ones out because it might not be perfect, you are right. If there is mud, your kids will face plant into it. If there is water, your kid will fall in it. If there are ant hills, your kid will step in it. The important thing is to let the internal desire for the outdoors flourish so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.