Now summer is long over, and we’re looking back at the adventures we’ve had with our son and the time we’ve spent outdoors as a family. If we’re honest, given his broken femur in April and subsequent weeks in a spica-cast and recovery, we’ve done much more than we thought we would. Hearing from other parents in a similar situation, we had imagined summer would be a hard slow road back to recovery, spent in and out of physio. But as we’re still finding out, kids have a magical quality about them. Our son healed quickly, thankfully with no lasting negative effects and was soon dancing on the garden step that tripped him up.
It would definitely have been the easiest thing to shut down summer for 2015. The spica-cast went up one leg, across his hips and half way down his other leg. He was in a lot of pain. His independent, curious way was suddenly restricted with what he could do. It was heart-breaking. We tried to do as much with him as we could, to let him know that if he didn’t want it to, life didn’t have to stop because he had hurt his leg. When he would ask “When my leg is better can we go…” we’d reply “Why wait? Let’s go now!” We went to new places and tried new things during those weeks, but not all of them were easy for him or a success. We could see his disappointment and frustration when we went to supposed wheelchair friendly parks that were all just a little bit wrong for him with bars out of reach. He wanted to run and explore, not be even more restricted.
So outdoors we went with a second hand all terrain pushchair and we could see the difference in him straight away. He could still be all the things he was before his accident; he was curious about everything and could watch the world go by, asking questions all the time but still going places that interested him.
When his cast came off and the consultants gave him the all clear, we made the decision to try to get out with him as much as we could and give him the chance to explore and discover in his own time, go as far as he could manage and support him as best we could.
So, we made a lucky dip adventure jar. As a family, we love to spend time outdoors canoeing, walking and wild camping and were out doing this a lot before he fell. With the adventure jar, the idea was simply to write down a few ideas of what we love to do on scraps of paper, put them in a jar and whenever we had a free weekend, our son would pick one out and we’d be away, obviously taking into consideration how he was doing and changing plans if we felt it would be too much too soon.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t always straight forward and we had some rough times. But there were many more fun times than not, which makes the trickier times seem not so bad. We’ve always taken our lead from our son, we’ve gone at his speed and have been amazed by the little man he is. We’ve made some great memories this summer, and here are just a few of our highlights:
Rannoch Forest Walk:
One of our most memorable moments was a walk we did shortly after he had his spica cast removed. The cast was removed on a Friday, and it wasn’t until the following Saturday that he took his first unsupported steps. That was a special day, he had no idea what he had just done, but me and my husband couldn’t stop crying! That weekend, he wanted to get out in to the forest so off we went, exploring somewhere new with great paths. He spent the majority of the time in the back carrier and we took everything we could think of ‘just in case’. He took a few more steps and probably would’ve walked most of it himself if we didn’t get bossy and tell him to get back in the carrier! It was so inspirational to see him get back out there, nothing could hold him back!
Camping at Rothiemurchus:
A walk in to the Cairngorms National Park, along mostly flat forestry tracks. He had an old camera of ours, so we spent the day meandering along at his speed, letting him take photos as we walked. He ended up walking about 5km that day, eager to show us what his new fixed leg could do. He tried getting a bit carried away so we still had to stop him jumping off little boulders in the path! It seemed he was sure making up for lost time!
A lovely walk around Loch Muick to Queen Victoria’s old hunting lodge. Our son was still recovering, but the path was great for when he did want to stretch his legs. There was plenty of variety, including lunch in a bothy and making friends with a lost little dinosaur. Ok, so we may have taken that along for our son to find, but what else can you do with a little guy who’s dinosaur obsessed and thinks all birds squawking are pterodactyls and deer poop is from a triceratops??
Canoeing on Loch Veyatie:
A canoe camp weekend, enjoying a more leisurely pace and having our fill of marshmallows while trying to escape the gazillions of midges that appeared out of nowhere!
Munro bagging wild camping weekend:
We bagged another munro! Carn Dearg in the isolated and rugged Rannoch Moor. Now this was possibly one of the longest, toughest adventure weekends we’ve had this summer. Plans were changed and moods were as foul as the weather! We spent the night sheltering by the ruins of an old inn turned sanatorium from the early 1900s so it was a bit spooky too!
We went for a walk along a valley following the path alongside the river, and before you know it, we’ve only gone and climbed a little hill! It was a great day, the sun was shining and the heather was in full bloom. A great day to be spontaneous!
Falls of Acharn:
Located near Loch Tay, you can only see the Falls of Acharn after you walk through a cave which kept our son entertained a few times! Seats are cut out in the sides of the tunnel, should you fancy sitting in the dark for a while. The walk continued through some woods, over rickety bridges and down the other side of the gorge.
What’s a summer without a beach or two?:
We’ve been to a few new beaches this summer including a beautiful beach surrounded by seacliffs, blossoming wild flowers and driftwood shelters lining the white sandy beach. We also have a new rock pool favourite with loads of crabs, anemones, baby lobsters and starfish there.
We’re really glad we embraced the adventure jar and let our son take the lead with our outings this summer. It’s given us the chance to have new experiences, go to new places and try new things as a family. Our son has amazed us with his understanding of a crummy situation, his ability to laugh despite a poorly leg and his eagerness to get back out there and have fun. He’s come out the other side stronger and is back to being a crazy 3 yr old who’s never still and in to everything. He seems to have forgotten what happened to his leg, and is always looking forward to the next chapter. We certainly can’t wait to see where it will take us…