At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses. Ellen Key
Sometimes I get irritated when my ‘survival skills’ are mocked. After forty years of driving, and many, many miles of driving, I am accustomed to carrying a number or items in my cars. Glow-sticks, jumper cables, and tire inflation tools. Batteries, tool kits, and both rain and warm-weather clothes and jackets. Bibles, magazines, butane lighters, dog treats and blankets. I have a bag with work-related items, dental floss, a hairbrush and cellphone chargers. I also bring a bag with my gym clothes, towels and rags. And one or two coffee mugs, and water bottles.
As I was pulling in the driveway in my little commuter car, my wife met me, wanting to take it (her car is unaccustomed to dog hair) to go pick up our dog-walking son, Dexter and Comet. Comet had stepped on a thorn and was limping. For a few minutes, my retrieving things from the floor and back seat, to give a passenger and two canines plenty of room, was the subject of some feminine mirth.
Woman! You have NO CLUE about “being prepared”!
When I was a Boy Scout many, many years ago, we were being trained to be prepared. It was lessons on living off the land, identifying plants and animal tracks, learning how to make a campfire, and how to build shelter. We learned first aid from blistered feet, nicked fingers (while sharpening pocket knives) and CPR. We learned something about being an “outdoorsman” and self-reliance.
In a matter of weeks, our eldest son, daughter-in-law, and new grandson will be returning home (San Diego) after my son’s Active Duty stint in the Army. When he left for military training a few years ago, our son was a mostly a tenderfoot. He learned to manage himself better, field skills, a trade, as well as learning to be a husband. With the arrival of Zander, both have battlefield training with only the wisdom of two grandmothers to aid them in baby -raising.
My son’s occupation, the Army, certainly advanced his education in being more prepared to deal with situations, difficult terrain, and working with people. And certainly, soldiering, in the dirt, probably sped his toughening. Heat and humidity of a Southern summer, or cold chill of winter were no longer strangers to a man raised in Southern California. No longer a tenderfoot, he can help his brothers with skills they may not have.
And me? I have learned to be a dad pretty well with eighteen years of practice and three sons as different as each can be. But this Grandad thing? I’m a tenderfoot. But I think I can handle it. After all, I was a Boy Scout.