By Lucy Winn Fuller
Emily is my oldest daughter. She has been the love of my life for the past 11 years. Eleven. How did she get there so fast? All of a sudden I have a pre-teen who would rather talk to her friends and play on her iPhone all day. It’s frustrating to say the least, and we bump heads about it a lot.
It’s hard raising a young adult these days. Its especially hard when you throw co-parenting into the mix. Emily comes to visit every other weekend. We try to pack in as much as we can for the three days that she’s here. Getting her off of her phone has been quite the challenge, and it’s come to the point that I have had to simply take it from her.
I spent my entire childhood and most of my young adult life outside. Most of my fondest memories come from days exploring the woods or splashing through the creek. I learned a lot from spending so much time outside. I want that same thing for my daughters, especially Emily.
Last week was especially hard for us both. I wanted to get her outside but she wanted the comfort of her bed and the excitement of her internet. I seriously thought about taking that phone and throwing it as far as I could into the cold waters of the Tallapoosa. But I didn’t. I placed it on the top shelf of the bookcase and told her, “put on your sandals and meet me on the front porch.” In shock of me taking her phone, she timidly did what I asked. I had the dogs beside me, and Jody had Abigail in the stroller ready to roll when Emily walked out of the house. We quietly started our trek down our little red dirt road next to the house.
The walk down to the creek was filled with silence, and I could feel some slight resentment radiating off of my beautiful yet stubborn child. I looked at her several times while placing my arm around her shoulders as I urged her to “trust me.” I couldn’t wait to share my joy and love of the outdoors with her. I knew she would absolutely love it, but I never realized how much.
The moment she took her first step into the cold waters of Eagle Creek was when I saw it happen. I saw the twinkle in her eye. I saw the corners of her mouth bend into that beautiful smile that God has given her. She giggled as she turned to let me know how cool the water felt. I grabbed her hand and we walked through the waters of that creek together. Just the two of us and our dogs, Jude and Ruby.
The dogs ran through the water and splashed with pure joy as Emily and I followed (more like stumbled) behind. We threw sticks for Ruby to chase. We laughed at Jude and his antics. We marveled at the size of the rocks on the moss covered banks. We were skeptical of the depth of the waters in various places but we kept on. Before I knew it, my iPhone obsessed pre-teen was leading the way.
I was trying my best to keep up with her as she danced through the waters. At one point, I looked up and she was upside down swinging from a low hanging tree branch. For a moment, I got lost in the ripples in from her fingers slowly tracing the reflections in the water. I closed my eyes briefly and listened to the birds, the splashing of the dogs paws, and the giggles of my sweet daughter. My heart was full.
Before I knew it, the sun was starting to hang low in the sky and the trees were beginning to cast shadows around us. It was time to turn bac, but Emily wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I heard the dogs off in the distance, a mixture of splashing and crunching leaves. Her name echoed through the silence of the forest as it left my lips and was followed by a quick reply, “I’m over here.” As I turned around the bend, I saw her. She was carrying a piece of driftwood that she had dug out of the bank of the creek.
As much as I hated to do it, I finally urged her to start making her way back to our little red dirt road. The sun was setting and shadows were now turning into darkness. The funny thing is this; it was harder trying to drag that child out of that creek than it was trying to drag her out of the house.
It was harder to reassure her that we would come back than it was to pry her beloved iPhone from her grasp.
What a beautiful adventure it turned out to be. Just me and my little girl and the dogs while Jody strolled Abigail on the red dirt road. Nature always wins. I’ll never forget that day. For what it’s what it’s worth, I did have my iPhone to capture those sweet moments.
Lucy Fuller is a lover of nature, animals, gardening, and old houses. She is a full-time mother and wife. She currently resides in Opelika with her husband, two daughters, 3 dogs, and cat. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.