Let's Go For A Walk

Let's go for a walk, my wife says. It'll be good for us, my wife says. The kids will go to sleep better tonight, my wife says. We could use the exercise, my wife says. It'd be a great "family thing" to do, my wife says.

While I do like to go for a stroll through the neighborhood on a summer evening, it's never a peaceful and relaxing experience like one might think it would or should be. It starts out innocent and ends in frustration. It still is, however, exercise. It may, in fact, help the kids go to sleep. The jury in my head is undecided about that one. We might need a panel of scientists to concur.

My older kids are going to want to ride their bikes. Sure, why not? Walking is kinda boring for a kid. They want to get out and spin their wheels, creep through the hood, and whatnot. Sounds innocent enough. Well, before too long (immediately) my daughter is 100 yards ahead of us and my oldest son is 100 yards behind. She wants to go, and he's too tired to keep up. He's always too tired the entire time.

I do understand why my daughter wants to go-go-go. It'd be hard to ride a bike slow enough to keep the same pace as my wife and me. Where's the fun in that? Perhaps, we should suggest she ride back to us rather than wait. It would tire her out twice as much and keep her busy instead of waiting for us at the next crossroad. My oldest son, however, is still 100 yards behind us and is now playing with the sewer grate. He can drive over that countless times, back and forth, but he's too tired to catch up. He's always too tired the entire time.

We spend the whole walk with our heads on a swivel trying to hold her back and keep him from falling too far behind. In order to do this, we have to yell down both ends of every street. "Stay on the side, not the middle! Watch out for that car! Wait for us at that stop sign before going down that street!" And yes, they would be dead or permanently injured otherwise. They don't pay much attention to their personal safety, and they do so with a boldness only a child can pull off. Their mother and I are their guardian angels. Apparently, they do not like guardian angels.

In reality, we're never really doing this walk thing together. We're all just progressing in the same direction, getting more and more agitated along the way. Is it quality bonding time? Not so much. It just turns into parents getting frustrated with kids and vice versa. What started out as an opportunity to get out and do something fun with the kids turns into another thing to drive us a tiny bit further apart. I can only imagine what the neighbors think every summer when we come rollin'.

So, why don't you just make them walk? Well, for starters, there's going to be some melt downs before we even start. "We never get to ride our bikes! My legs are always too tired! I always have to walk! It's always boring! You never let us do what we want to do!" And the playlist continues with these extreme statements. Never. Always.

If they get to ride their bikes, we at least make it to the street or maybe even halfway down the street before a meltdown begins. And walking doesn't make it any better from there. The same thing happens. She wants to go. He falls behind. He's always too tired. Every damn time.

So, why do you agree to these walks? Because I have temporary amnesia and have hope that this time could be different. You know, all those things people think and tell themselves to carry on, keep the peace. I actually do want to go on a walk with my kids, in theory. The practice is the hard part. And, if I don't, my wife will be pissed. So, what would you do? The walk is only going to be about a half hour. It does eventually end.

Mostly, I do it for my wife. It's important to her, and so it's important to me (or so I'm told). I never actually did a whole lot outside of the house before I met my wife other than golf, work, and groceries. Since then, I've had many great out-of-the-house experiences with her and my kids and that is partly because of her drive to do things, and do them as a family. I am a motivated and active person, don't be fooled, fool, but she completes me. Awww, so sweet! Yep. Sure. Mountains of cheese.

Also, we need to do things as a family even when it could get (always gets...) complicated. The kids need experiences and the chance to screw up, and we need to be there to guide them through it. My wife and I need to have the chance to work at being better parents for them, too. We can't just sit at home and hide away from the world even if the world is secretly pleading with us to do so. (Keep the bribe money flowing!) We all need to experience it first hand. Or so I keep telling myself as I run repeatedly into a wall, knowing that if I just believe enough, I can go through that wall.

Let's go for a walk, my wife says.

*Sigh* Whatever.

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