My 5-year-old (Ari) was born with a very "I can’t do it” attitude. This concerns me. Life is full of hard things. Making decisions, learning a new skill, standing up for what you believe, etc. Life requires a certain amount of perseverance to survive, and an even bigger amount if you want to actually succeed. I want Ari to know he has it in him.

For this reason I’m constantly pointing out to Ari when he does something that he was convinced he couldn’t do.  Fold his own laundry, learn to read, jump off a rock, ride a bike, and hike to the top of a volcano.

Yes, a volcano. Namely the Cinder Cone trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It seemed like the perfect hike for a volcano-obsessed 5-year old. Four miles is nothing really, and you can actually peer down into the crater at the end! Ari was so excited… until he hit mile 1.4.

The first mile and a half was not steep when measured by any other human. But despite how often I take this kid hiking, the ever-so-slight incline threw him into "can't do it" mode.  Luckily the view of the volcano in the distance at mile 1.2 was enough to get him going again. Likewise, the view of the steep trail at mile 1.4 was enough to discourage him.

It loomed in the distance.  It looked a lot bigger than I had imagined.  All of the sudden he “couldn’t do it”, it was going to be “too hard”. 

It was a steep trail indeed. Walking on cinder we took one step up and slid a 1/2 step back.  Ari collapsed on the trail in true dramatic fashion several times. We would rest.  Help him up.  Make up more knock-knock jokes to occupy his thoughts and continue on. There were times when we sort of wanted to let him just give up.  But we didn’t.  We couldn’t.

He made it.  And I think the view from the top was that much better for the drama of the hike up.  I wish I had a picture of his face the moment he saw that crater.  The huge grin.  The squealing.   Him yelling “We did it!”   All of us running for cover as a gale-force wind threatened to catch us mid-victory dance and throw us straight into the crater.

Thank you volcano, for showing my son that he can do hard things.







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