When I was in elementary school, my best friend and I got the crazy idea to take part in the Walk for Mankind: a 30 kilometer walk that was a fundraiser for … like I would know.
In the months leading up to the walk, every recess we dutifully walked around the playground on the third of a mile track, keeping a record of mileage. We were so proud of ourselves in the week leading up to the event when we passed the 18 mile mark. We knew we were ready. Only in an 11-year-old’s mind is walking 18 miles over two months preparation for walking 18 miles in one day, but there is a definite benefit to being young and stupid: we didn’t know enough not to try!
Once we started walking that day, there was no way we weren’t going to finish. Fortunately for us, our young bodies were resilient. We walked and talked and joked. We had our badges punched at each stop. We ate up all the attention we got from the volunteers on the course.
When we finally finished, I called Ma, and she came to pick us up. Before the walk, Ma made sure I knew how to tell her where I was when I called home: “Don’t call me and say I’m on the corner of ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk’!”
She was great about emphasizing to call her when we were done with the walk, as opposed to finishing it. It subtly gave us permission to stop if it was too hard, and it was a huge source of pride when we did the whole thing.
In our current time of helicopter parents, I’m grateful that I was given so much freedom to explore the world on my own. Thanks, Ma, for giving me my wings to fly … and the occasional nudge out of the nest.
Growing up, how much freedom were you given? or What feat are you proud of from your youth?