I like to glean lessons from my real life experiences and share them with you because the real learning is in living. This post offers a simple, practical tip for parents and for those who want to have children someday.
Caroline and I like to take walks with Solomon (Caroline does it everyday; I don’t) around our neighborhood. The neighborhood is ideal for families as it is right on the water and offers a park and beach, always empty, about a minute away on foot. We have wonderful neighbors who look after one another and we’ve developed pretty close relationships with some of them.
When our walks come with no specific destination we let Solomon, who is 15 months old, lead the way and we follow him. His paths are usually pretty random and it’s a joy for us to observe him as he experiences his expanding world and discovers himself along the way, which is the main reason why we allow him to lead.
The other day, as Caroline followed Solomon on one of his ventures she noticed he didn’t meander like he usually does. This time he made a straight line for the corner and then made a decisive right turn and then a determined left turn at the next corner. He continued another 10 yards and stopped in front of the home of a family whom we’ve gotten pretty close to in the past several months. They have 4 beautiful, very well-behaved, even-tempered children ranging in age from 1 to 11. Solomon loves when we visit their home.
Anyway, Solomon stopped in front of the brick walkway that stretches about 20 feet to their front door and stood looking at the front door. No one was home at the time but he, of course, didn’t know that. As Caroline stood observing him he waved to the house and said ‘hello’ in his best 15-month old pronunciation.
What she witnessed amazed her. It was evident that Solomon knew exactly how to get to the home on foot by following the path he had come to know by walking their in the past with his parents.
He demonstrated goal-setting (he had the picture in mind of where he wanted to go); recall (he remembered how to get there as evidenced by the beeline he made to the home); and independence (he did not need to be guided or led).
There are other skills and benefits being developed here – spatial relations, balance, strength, resolve, initiative, exploration, discovery, excitement, and fun.
All these and more Solomon and every child get from walking. There are the benefits for the children and parents individually and for the family as a whole. That’s why Caroline prefers taking the 20 minute walk downtown or to the local food market rather than driving, which offers only speed and convenience and nothing more than that.
Walking offers you the gift of yourself.