Whatever conceptions you have of “going for a walk”, “hiking” or “taking a stroll”, please wrap them in newspaper and throw in the trash. Once you have a kid, you’re going to have to learn new meanings for all these things.
I’m a fast walker. I’d rather spend my life at the destination than strolling along a sidewalk. When I go out someplace beautiful, I walk quickly so I can cover more ground, explore the world. I’d chalk this up to personal peculiarity but my father, brother, and sister all walk quickly so that when we’re out somewhere it looks as though we’re hurrying for a train or leaving the scene of a crime but trying not to look as though we’re leaving the scene of a crime. So when I go for walk with my wife and Toddler Harbat I know I have so slow down.
That is mistake #1: thinking that you have to walk slower than normal when going out with a toddler. You are, in fact, not going for a walk with a toddler. You’re going outside to explore the world and maybe you’ll get somewhere. Maybe. The ground is much closer to toddler’s eyes than our own, so the world underfoot has many fascinating things. Like dog poop. Here’s me trying to get somewhere, and TH getting up close with what turned out to be coyote leavings.
You can bring snacks, entice with new things to see, beg, plead, cry. It won’t make any difference. TH’s prime directive when we went for a hike this weekend was to find a patch of grass so she could sit down to eat her snack. In truth it sounds pretty enticing, but we’d just gone through a big cold rainstorm the day before so the ground was mushy and cold. Toward the end of the hike I estimated we were walking about 0.5 miles per hour.
I love detours, unplanned stops to pick flowers, examine potato bugs, climb rocks, and especially to look at tightly coiled piles of digested dog food, but sometimes I just want to go. No such agenda for Toddler Harbat. She was much more interested in finding just the right sticks to make a pair of antlers. For her part, the hike was a great success. And secretly, it was for me too.