The Wisdom of Daddy: Building Confidence

On a recent play date, my friend (a Dad) and I took the kids to Duthie Hill Park, known for a remarkable mountain bike trail system. The 6-year-old “big kids” (my son and his daughter) hit the trail on bikes with him while our younger ones (girls ages 3 ½ and 4) walked with me. Our plan wasn’t specific but he mentioned there was a big open space with a BMX track “in the middle” and they planned to ride there a bit.

Skateboarding Dad with kid
Our “Dad friend” at the skate park (another place he introduced us to) with his youngest

The girls and I decided we would be “on the creature trail” (both are fans of the PBS Kids show “Wild Kratts”) spotting slugs, fuzzy caterpillars, and even tadpoles. We had fun shaking “snow” from the Cottonwood Tree seed pods that littered part of the trail and pretending the dogs we passed with mountain bikers were actually wolves. Then we became a wolf pack ourselves, all the while picking and eating ripe salmon berries. It was lovely.

Lovely, that is, until we came to a fork in the trail and I was unsure of directions. Straight ahead seemed the obvious answer but there was a massive wooden bike ramp/jump built off to the side (“is that part of the BMX track?” I wondered). We had been walking for a while and enjoying ourselves along the way but there were no obvious signs that we were getting close to anything… I started wondering if we were lost and I didn’t want to wear the girls out trekking along in the wrong direction. Unsure of myself and completely unfamiliar with the location (no map at the entry to the trail system so I didn’t even know if we were on a loop or not), I wasn’t willing to risk getting lost (that was highly unlikely, actually, but I admit it crossed my mind). Plus, I didn’t want cranky kids begging to be carried as they dragged their feet back to the car if they became too tired on the trail. All of these concerns were just banter in my mind… the girls were getting along beautifully without a complaint in the world, I simply couldn’t stop pondering the “what ifs,” so we turned around.

Meanwhile, at the “so cool” (direct quote from my son, by the way) BMX track that we never made it to, my son, his friend, and her Dad were happily zipping around the track, catching air on jumps, banking corners and even falling sometimes but getting right back up and having a blast. Do you think my Dad friend was out there fretting about “what ifs” at the time? Um no, I don’t think so either… and that, my friends, is the wisdom of Daddies.

There is a HUGE gap between my idea of what it means to take risks and a Dad’s idea. My idea of “risky” activities with my kids is taking them kayaking (in a tandem kayak with me and wearing a life vest, of course), letting them use a sharp knife in the kitchen while I supervise, or rocking out with them to heavy metal from the ‘80s (hey, some of those lyrics are dicey… and for the record, it’s “Highway to Help” if my kids ask).

This biking experience reminded me of the time my husband finally took me to Red Top Lookout with him and the kids. He had taken the kids there a few times before so I had heard a lot about this incredibly scenic fire lookout station set high in the Cascades. First of all, let me tell you that the view from there is absolutely breathtaking, but second of all, let me tell you… Holy Flaming Treetops, this lookout is literally perched on a mountaintop with perilous cliffs all around!

Red Top Lookout, Washington
See? I wasn’t exaggerating

Personally, I wouldn’t have considered this a kid-friendly destination if I hadn’t experienced it with my own kids myself… and to think that their Dad brought them here a couple times on his own (gulp).

Red Top Lookout Hike
Taking a little break on the way up

Yes, a lot of supervision was required and it took great coaxing to get our youngest to walk herself up the trail but they both did it and they both absolutely love that place, no doubt proud of themselves for hiking a tough trail and exhilarated to experience the fresh cold air and amazing views all around. Ask either of them about their favorite hike and they’ll proudly tell you, “Red Top Lookout.”

Hike to Red Top Lookout
Almost there
Top of Red Top Lookout
Feeling on top of the world
Sara at Red Top Lookout

So on this Father’s Day I’d like to officially thank my dear Husband, my “Dad-Friend” Brad, and all Dads out there for all that you bring to the table but particularly for the fun and exciting challenges you present to our kids. The confidence you’re instilling in them will last a lifetime. Hopefully the air-guitar skills I’m teaching won’t sink in so much.

Happy Father’s Day!

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