Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My tough kid

Came across something interesting while walking the Baldwin Hills Stairs the other day.

Truth is, I find something interesting every time I decide to make the 2 hour journey, from my house to the trailhead, up and down the stairs 4 times and the 1.7 mile return trip, my fingers swollen to sausage-like proportions from the exertion.

As I was descending the hill, making my way down the winding switchback where I often find lightening-fast lizards and startling brown and yellow ringed gopher snakes, I spotted a young Hispanic family coming up the hill.

The young couple, in their late twenties at best, were trailed by a brood of 5 toddlers. Actually, one kid was not walking, he was in a stroller.

Not one of those fancy-schmancy REI-endorsed $400 strollers with the ergonomic seating, the built-in iPod player and the hydraulic shock absorbers for rugged off roading.

No, this was a street model.

Probably picked up at a K-Mart or a flea-market. It had four wheels, three of them wobbly, a torn fabric seat, and beat up plastic handlebars that were machine extruded from a Taiwanese sweatshop in 1992.  It looked out-of-place here on the fashionable Westside of LA, not unlike the parents, who were not wearing $200 hiking shoes, $100 cargo shorts or $50 cool-wicking headbands from the fine folks at Patagonia.

They weren't outfitted for the hike. And neither were the kids, who sported hand me down flip flops, threw dirt and rocks at each other and played without a care in the snake-infested sagebrush.

As our paths criss-crossed, one of the mijas tripped on a jagged rock. She hit the ground hard. And fast. So fast, that her parents, who were a few yards ahead, didn't even see it.

Nor did they have to.

The four year old girl, snapped back up, brushed the dirt from the fresh bloody raspberry, and didn't miss a beat. There was no crying. No whining. No 5 alarm dash to the Cedar Sinai Emergency Room.

I thought about all this as I recently brought my own daughter back to JCA summer camp after her bout with the flu.

I offered to help bring her belongings back to the cabin but she declined. Perhaps she didn't want to be humiliated by her father. But as I pulled away I looked in the rear view mirror and saw her trudging up the hill with a 25 lbs. duffel bag, a backpack, a 10 lbs. handbag and her oversized pillow.

She's a hearty little camper.
Maybe not as rugged as the little girl with the bloody knee, but still tough.

And toughness is a good thing to have in this world.

A very good thing.

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