Over the Summer Holidays, we took a hike through a new trail in Kota Damansara. I had never been there before, but I thought we would try something new. I think I remember seeing the words “family friendly” somewhere and figured the boys could manage it.
The trail we took was pretty easy up until the last 500 meters to the peak. That’s when it got a little more challenging. Perhaps it was a bit too much of a shock because it came with no warning. G1 fell to pieces – something he has not done in quite a long while now. It was a day of surprises all around because I was not prepared for his reaction either.
I should provide a little more background. Right before this hike, I took G1 to an old trail (Bukit Dinding) we had done 4 years back. If you read our old post, both boys had sworn never to take this trail again. Luckily, time weathers all memories. We made it through Bukit Dinding with no troubles at all and it was tougher than Kota Damansara. After a hike like Bukit Dinding, Kota Damansara should have been a breeze. That was why I failed to anticipate G1’s reaction.
Physical activity has never been a love of G1’s. He avoids it with a passion. But I am his Mum and I have a vested interest in preserving his fitness and health. I insist on mandatory physical activities not only for health purposes but also because physical fitness provides many cognitive and brain benefits. Over the school holidays, when there is no PE to counter his sedentary nature, I try to arrange a few family hikes. The journey has not been easy, but we have made great progress over the years. To see where G1 is now after all those painful years, it was definitely worth it. I would do it all over again.
I digress… Back to Kota Damansara and G1’s melt down. We were less than 500 meters to the peak (probably the longest 500 meters I have ever hiked). G2 was already ahead with the first group but I was carrying the water. I gave G1 an out – I told him he could quit. Stop where he is and wait for me to come back after I had given G2 water.
I sped to the peak, gave G2 his water, then returned for G1. I found him continuing towards the peak. In answer to my question, he said, “How can I come this far and not see the view at the peak?”
As a Mum who has been trying to instill grit into her children, I cannot tell you proud those words made me feel. I gave him the chance to quit but he chose the harder road.
On the return leg, I told the rest of the group to hike ahead. I would stay back to sweep and make sure G1 made it out. The going was slow with G1 grumbling about it. I am not a patient person by nature and I generally believe in sucking it up. Nevertheless, I bit my tongue and said nothing.
After a while, the trail got easier and G1 started to open up. With just the two of us surrounded by trees, it was a really lovely bonding session. In fact, I hadn’t felt this close to him since he was a little boy. I did not realise how far we’d drifted over the years until that moment and I treasured the closeness. Sure, it came with the unpleasant experience of his melt down, but it is true when they say that difficult times have a way of drawing people closer together.
We talked about a number of topics, including my writing and this blog. He asked why I didn’t continue with the blog. I said that I wanted to respect his privacy. I didn’t think he would want his stories shared with the world at large. Then he told me he didn’t mind having his stories on the Internet. When he said it, I felt like I should have known this all along because of the boy that he is.
G1 has always been his own person. That is largely due to the nature of his personality. I regret that I cannot take credit for it except for whatever genetic material I might have supplied and the housing I provided for 9 months of his making. For good and for bad, he is not affected by the opinions of others.
I asked him if I could share our experience in Kota Damansara and he said, “Sure.”
That is not the end of the story. A little later, while we were eating lunch, G1 said, “Mum, I know I was difficult.” And I knew he was grateful to me that day.
I’m not a perfect parent. Far from it. I do try my best even if I fall short much of the time. It is the days like this, when G1 opens a window into his mind and lets me see what’s going on in there that I feel like maybe we’re not doing too badly after all. I’m not a terrible parent and he’s a pretty good kid.