Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guides saves us!

Few things will fill you with as much pride as seeing your teachings in a child.  Nephews, nieces, neighbors or strangers—hearing your knowledge come out of their mouths and guide their actions is a feeling like no other.
While working for the National Parks I interacted with hundreds of people, many of them families--during my guided hikes and cave tours, answering questions at the visitor’s center, my biweekly wildlife talks or while I was out in the park on my days off.  And I’ll tell you from experience, nothing guarantees a family enjoying themselves like entertaining and educating the young ones!  No parent enjoys any outing or vacation if their children are running amok and acting a fool.  So it’s always a good idea to focus on and engage them first.

*Teaching kids about responsible caving & bats!*

My time there has served me well in the short time that I’ve been a parent, focusing on and engaging my own child 24/7.  And yes, whether it’s a shopping trip or a walk around the block—no outing is enjoyable (or sometimes bearable) when he’s in the throes of a ‘terrible-twos’ tantrum.  The worst ones are on the way home—because for whatever reason you HAD to go and ruin their good time.  Kids on my guided tours would do this too—and I soon discovered that playing games kept the good times going.  The kids at the park were old enough to play trivia games on the hike out, so I quizzed them on things I’d taught them and gave them suckers or pencils—& they loved it, so did their ever-grateful parents.  My son may not even be 3yrs old yet, but he knows his colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and a vast variety of objects—including over 35 animals & the sounds they make (yes, I have counted)!  So to keep him from getting too bored and acting up we play those same guide games, and many times HE is the one that initiates these games.  They have saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Believe me, kids need little coaxing to demonstrate how smart they are!  And they’ll damn-near do back flips to show off if it merits some kind of reward.  So whether you go off to work for a local, state or National Park, or a community outreach program, or just have children of your own one day—guide games save the parents!!  Like the old adage says: “If mom ain’t happy, no one is happy,” and nothing makes mom (parents in general) happier than kids who are busy learning and happy about it!

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