Recently, Carlie and I were out in the neighbouring fields, enjoying the beautiful day and the little moments of delight within our morning adventure – a sniff here, a frolic there. I learned from both Marzie (my previous companion) and Carlie that the ‘best walks’ always include the intention of joyful adventure. Who knows what you will discover and experience?
On this morning, like many before, a hawk joins us for a portion of our walk, calling out a message or simply taking delight in the moment with us. The beauty of an adventure-walk is that all kinds of teaching opportunities present themselves. No less on this adventure. I notice Carlie ‘catch wind’ of something and run towards the smell pleasing her senses. Then I see her ‘drop and roll’. I run towards her and with as much enthusiasm as I can muster I ask, “what did you find Carlie?”
She looks at me, then back down at this ‘thing’ and I can see her quick mind discerning what to do. Does she run off with this thing or stay there and share her prize with me? I repeat myself with calm enthusiasm, “oh boy Carlie, what did you find? Show me.” I want her to engage with me and trust me with her prize.
She decides to trust me with her prize and when I get to her I am disgusted to find a dead rat! In my mind, I’m thinking ‘yuk!’ However, I realize that we have two entirely different perspectives to this dead rat. Her prize is my disgust. If I impose my repulsion upon her and yank her away from this prize, I know next time she will run away with the dead carcass – maybe even eat it!
So we take a moment and together we are curious and observant about what happened, why it’s there and what we should do about it. Then I suggest to Carlie, “how about we leave it for the hawk. Maybe the hawk needs breakfast.” I give her several perfectly scrumptious liver treats in exchange while we walk away together. I propose a game of ‘tricky ball’ and she eagerly agrees, happy to leave what she had found. It no longer had ‘keep away or eat away’ value. Mission (human) accomplished!
I think to myself how ‘teenager’ this behaviour is… seeking independence, testing out new things and discovering one’s own way to create their lives. How often as parents do the prizes and perspectives of our teens trigger reactions within us which all too quickly create power struggles? Had I acted out my immediate reaction of repugnance, how quickly my ‘teenager’ would have asserted her desires – snatch her dead rat and run away to do with it what I didn’t want her to do. And she knows just what that is, just like teens do!
Leaning into Carlie’s enthusiasm and turning toward curiosity about what she found changed the outcome completely. However, she still had a smelly spot from the ‘drop and roll’ that needed shampooing – a fragrant reminder of what else could have been. I’m grateful for our shared vision of companionship and the steadfastness and patience I’m building to see it through, even though it may take years. And today, I suspect so is the hawk.