We have been doing some hiking this week, with Pooks in the Kelty backpack, and she loves her view from the top. She also loves to do some hair-pulling and head-smacking, followed by peals of giggles.
This picture may look like the deep jungle, but in fact it is our back yard. We prefer our neighbors to be furry, slithering, or otherwise non-human. They are less likely to whine about our noise level that way.
Since it's finally nice out and we live in a gorgeous place, we haven't been spending much time indoors these days. Which is great- great for exercise and learning, but also for introducing me to a whole new batch of mom worries I'd not previously considered.
The "what-ifs" of the Great Outdoors. (Those of you who have visited us probably laugh at that, since we live basically in the middle of nowhere, but the fact is that we have rarely strayed from the yard and deck with Pooks. It was just too much effort and there was too much other fun stuff to do without wearing boots and basting ourselves with Deep Woods OFF.)
What if she gets lost? What if we run across a bear? What if I am out with her and get bitten by a rattlesnake?
Then I say to myself, "No, no. You are being so silly! She wouldn't get lost!"
And then yesterday, some kids were hiking with their parents in the Pisgah forest, near here, and got lost. 6 and 4 years old, slightly out of their parents' eyesight, and GONE. The Amber Alert went out this morning.
Amazingly, they were found safe and alive. They have wandered off-trail, for over a mile, and spent the night (it was cold too - in the 40's), huddled together in the dark woods before they were rescued around noon today.
Was it bad parenting? I'm not the one to say - I know that accidents happen, especially if you think "That will never happen." So how do I react? It has made me start thinking I should move up my "outdoor safely" timeline some. Pooks is a smart kid - if I could turn some tips into a game, it might make her happy enough to learn things. Things that are on my list (some for now for Pooks, some for later. They are good tips for you as well):
- CALL BACK - If you hear mommy call to you, call back.
- HUG A TREE - If you realize you are lost, go to the nearest tree and STAY THERE.
- GET A WHISTLE - I plan to equip Pooks with a lifeguard whistle as soon as I think she won't just blast our eardrums out with it at every opportunity.
and of course it goes without saying (or it should) for parents to keep kids in their sightline at ALL TIMES in the woods. Mostly it's all safe, but there ARE bears and snakes and bug and beasties. Always, always better safe than sorry.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a toddler to go bear hug.