We set off on our bikes (one mama + three 8 year olds for two hours) to explore what might be happening around town, a riverside park and an ice cream shop our only two planned destinations.
There was sibling rivalry over who got to be first, who wasn't going fast enough and whose fault it was when someone wiped out. We encountered unexpected obstacles. The park was incredibly crowded. Both ice cream shops on our route were closed.
Hungry. Tired. Hot. Stretched. Fearful. Frustrated. I may or may not have declared a few minutes near the homestretch as 'silent riding unless it is an emergency.'
Interspersed with the tears and tempers there were also moments of laughter, snaggle toothed smiles, enthusiastic "woo hoo"s and accomplishment of challenging tasks. Little muscles were being exercised and built--in bodies, hearts, and character.
As my husband frequently reminds me when family outings go a little off kilter--this is the point. Learning is a process. Real life is often 90% work and toil for the 10% reward. There are no short cuts to authentic character development...in our children or in ourselves. If we want to learn to 'do hard things' we have to be willing to deal with the sweat & tears.
Even on the best days, life is an imperfect adventure. There are hills. There are scrapes. We get tired. Joy is found in celebrating it anyway.