My oldest kid, The Bear, turned 10 last August. For his birthday present, his dad and I gave him a trip. He got to choose the destination and the activities. While that may sound like a pretty awesome gift, the real gift was that we would leave his siblings at home. In a three-kid home, getting time alone with just Mom and Dad is pretty much a unicorn.
After much research and an option that didn’t pan out, The Bear chose Durango, Colorado as his destination. A train lover since 18-months-old, he just couldn’t pass up the chance to ride the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge RailRoad.
I’d taken this train ride when I was a child, and I remembered enjoying it quite a lot. I did not, however, enjoy it nearly as much as The Bear. He was like a happy dog going for a ride in the car:
We loved having the time to talk on the train. There were groundhogs, a raging river, gorgeous mountains, and a bright blue sky. It really was a magical trip, with the choo choo of the steam engine and the hypnotic rocking of the car on the rails.
That afternoon we went on a whitewater rafting trip. The Bear was really looking forward to it, even though he’s not a risk-taker. He loved going through the rapids, singing songs with the college kids who were on our boat, and hopping up into the guides seat to work the big oars in a calm section of the river. He was disappointed to have to get out an walk around one section of the rapids– the river was at peak flow, and his 60-pound body could have easily been tossed from the raft in a particularly gnarly section– but he took it in stride. We all got off the river wanting to raft again– soon!
There was also a ziplining adventure. For 12 big zips, our normally cautious kid ripped through the trees above Durango. He loved being the only kid in the group, showing us big adults how he could do everything we could. He even worked up the nerve to let go of the cable for a few seconds– very tentatively, and with great concern– but, by gosh, he wanted to try. He did very well concentrating on his “cannonball” landings, too.
Our trip also took us to Mesa Verde, where we did some pretty fantastic hiking in and around cliff dwellings. The Bear’s favorite part was climbing up and down the wooden ladders– one more than 30 feet tall– to gain access to the sites.
Overall, the weekend was a real vacation for all of us. We had plenty of activity, some time to sit and talk, and we got to enjoy being together and focusing on saying YES to whatever The Bear wanted.
While the gift was meant to be a real treat for him to mark a decade of being a great kid, it turns out it was really a gift for his dad and me– to spend time with our son, trying new activities, watching him experience new thrills, and learning new things was priceless.
Good health and great happiness to you!