This is truly one of my favorite places to be. I love the wood fires, the awesome foods we cook on them, and the fresh air.
Right about the time I am so totally frustrated with the teenagers saying, "There's nothing to do!" one of the little ones says something that turns my heart the other way and makes me smile.
Yesterday, Mere' throws her legs over the seat of her "new" bike (the one Tara outgrew this year) begins to pedal away from the campsite, and yells over her shoulder, "Gotta go meet some more people!" This is the shy girl that doesn't take risks, struggles where the others excel, the one who is tucked under my arm in most new situations. "Gotta go." I love that! She is expanding her world, feeling safe and ready to grow.
I watched the 4 youngest kids ride their bikes yesterday. It's amazing how they each approach their rides so differently. Tara,8, is the oldest of the younger four kids. She is a little bit delayed in much of her development, but this year we have seen tremendous growth in her socialization skills, schooling, and overall development. She learned to ride her bike this spring without training wheels, to which we cheered and made a video of her success. Mere tried her best too, but by the time we got to the campground she really needed those training wheels after all.
So, Tara rides off on her bike, wobbly, but determined to get to where she wants to go. She pushes the pedals down with force, eyes on the far off place where her wheels will carry her. She barely watches for who may be in her path, determination on her face. That's how she approaches most of her life.
Mere', at 6, more timidly mounts her bike. She sets her feet to the pedals, almost methodically pushing each foot to the ground, watching her feet the entire time she gets the bike moving in forward motion. She spends alot of time watching the pedaling process, often forgetting to look forward for who or what may be in her way. Once she masters the motion, she gleefully goes toward her goal, singing or humming, or talking to the stuffed animals who are spilling out of her basket. Just like she approaches life.
Tommy,5, however, is in constant motion. He hits the seat of his bike, running, forcing his feet to hit the pedals as they move in a circle, almost trying to catch his feet on the upswing. He pushes fiercely forward, heading for whatever he finds on the way, or in the way. He goes full speed, stopping only to pet a dog, or find a treasure. He brings bugs or sticks back to the campsite, staying just long enough to get a snack or a drink. That's life for him. All fast and furious.
Bella, the baby at 3, is the youngest of our kids to "get" the bike riding down. She got a new bike for her birthday in February, and rode it through the house until the weather was nice enough to take it outside. She jumps on the seat, ready to join the others to where ever they are going. She sings as she pedals, happy as a lark to be mobile and moving. She says, "Wait for me, guys!" But even though they don't wait for her, she tries her best to keep up and find whatever it is that moves them all forward. She rolls into the campsite, singing her adorable made-up song, a collage of melodies that stream through her tiny mind all day long. That's just how she is, day to day. Life, for Bella, is still a happy song.
I guess watching them makes me even more mindful of their differences. The older kids use their bikes to get to specific places, to keep from walking. The younger ones ride for sheer pleasure, enjoying the feel of the wind as they race, and the freedom it gives them, as they explore their world.
I am grateful of their differences. In another place, their differences may not be celebrated. They can be trying, difficult for others to understand. They need medications to keep them functioning at their very best, and they each struggle with different things.
But here, on their bikes, they are just kids. They love the camping, the freedoms of riding, the things they can do on their own that are helping them grow.
There is nothing better than this day.