“Will You Carry Me?” or Hiking with Small Children

by Abby on November 21, 2011

Carry me, Daddy!Funny thing about toddlers: one minute they’re “too tired” to walk another step, and the next minute they’re sprinting around the playground like they just shotgunned a Red Bull. I’ve dubbed this phenomenon “selective energy.” It’s comparable to selective hearing — kids don’t hear you when you say it’s time to clean up but they DO hear you whisper the word “cookie” 3 rooms away — and to selective appetite, when they claim they’re too stuffed to eat one more bite of carrots but are mysteriously ravenous at the mention of ice cream minutes later.

So back to selective energy. My sister-in-law was visiting this weekend, and she’s really into hiking. We thought it might be fun to take everybody to a nearby park that has a playground and hiking trails. I knew my 2.5yo would not last long enough for a serious hike, but I thought maybe if we distracted him with the playground before and after he wouldn’t notice the walking-in-the-woods part in between.

Sure enough, he was off like a shot the minute he spied the slides and giant plastic climbing structures. After some playing, we headed off to find the trail. My husband had wisely let the kids bring their own backpacks, packed with snacks and water. He looked at me and said, “I give Riley 20 minutes.” Wrong. Try 2 minutes. We were barely out of sight of the parking lot when he began whining, “I’m tiiiiired. Carry me!”

My SIL noted that one of her hiking buddies jogs up mountains wearing a 20-lb. weighted vest. I’d like to see him try carrying a 37-lb. squirming passenger on his shoulders who’s pulling your hair and grabbing passing tree branches.

My 5yo, Miles, meanwhile, was running ahead marveling at the steep drop-offs next to the trail and the “bridge” fashioned from a single slippery log barely wider than my leg. We had just cleared that potentially treacherous obstacle when Riley whined, “I need a snaaaack!”

“Are you kidding me?” said my SIL, laughing. She hadn’t even broken a sweat yet. Welcome to Hiking with Small Children, I told her. We’ll be lucky if we complete a 0.5-mile loop by sundown. I hope she wasn’t anticipating a challenging outdoor adventure.

So we made our way along the trail on a beautiful fall day, stopping every couple of yards for snack and water breaks and to select new walking sticks, which undoubtedly would be used for sword-fighting later. Just when Riley was sure he couldn’t walk another step, the playground came into view again. Off he went, rappelling up the rock wall and zooming down slides.

So maybe if nature were primary-colored with a springy rubber floor and swings, we wouldn’t have to carry him?

Will You Carry Me? by Heleen Van RossumREAD O’ THE DAY: Will You Carry Me? By Heleen Van Rossum is an adorable book about a small boy named Thomas who’s too tired from playing to walk home, so his mother has to get inventive. A cute depiction of the mind games we parents frequently have to play with our children to convince them to do something they don’t want to do.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

It's Not Like a Cat November 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

We took our kids hiking a few weeks ago (they’re ages 18 mo. and 3.5 yrs). The older one, Max, kept whining that he was too tired and had to be carried. We each ended up carrying a kid the entire time…for a short, flat walk.

A week later we tried again, this time with one of Max’s best friends along. The two of them practically RAN up the hill to the fire tower. And down again. No whining, no carrying.

We tried it a week after that, and Max mostly walked (as did Ben, but he kept falling, or wandering off the trail, or trying to climb into streams).

So maybe try bringing their friends along next time. It seems to help.

ALSO: Can’t help noticing the photo. We carry our kids on our shoulders all the time. But yesterday my super-safety-minded brother was carrying HIS three-yr-old on his shoulders and the child fell off, fracturing his skull on the sidewalk and getting a nice concussion (he’s fine, no bleeding, being released from hospital this morning). So just something to think about…


Abby November 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

Oh, no! Your poor nephew. Good tip about bringing along a friend.


J.D. Meier November 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

> which undoubtedly would be used for sword-fighting later
Absolutely! It would be a crime otherwise.

It’s always interesting what we have energy for, and what we don’t, and how certain things like rock walls and slides can re-inspire us.


Abby November 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I guess adults are the same way. For instance, I have no energy to write thank-you notes, but endless energy for writing this blog. 🙂


Malia Jacobson November 21, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Ha! My mom’s group schedules a lot of hikes with kids, but I have to confess that I avoid those types of playdates. I’m fairly outdoorsy, but chasing my kids on precariously slippery trails doesn’t sound like fun to me. Flat hikes, walks around ponds, etc.–that, I can do. You’re brave!


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