One of our favorite traditions is climbing Mount Timpanogus every summer. And when Mary was 10 we decided it was time for her to join family and friends on the 17 mile hike.
There were a lot of people that wanted her to stay on pace and keep up.
I let the rest of the group go ahead and told her, “I’ll stay with you every minute. You can rest anytime you like; just go at your own pace.” And she did. She stopped at the most random spots. Not in a shady spot, but right in the middle of the trail on a rock.
I told her stories and we ate a lot of cookies and walked and walked and sometimes skipped through the wildflowers.
Of course she made it to the top and then slid down the glacier and put flowers in her hair and talked to the chipmunks on the way down. And she actually ended up finishing about the same time as everyone else.
The next year we had an 18-year-old friend who was nervous about coming on the hike and Mary told her, “You’ll be fine. You just need lots of water and people who love you. We can provide both.”
I remind myself of that concept often. We just need to let people go at their own pace. They can be silly or stubborn and sit on rocks and have long delays. We simply provide water and love.