End of an era - no more Tagalong.

One of our favourite bike rides is to go across on the ferry to Strangford and cycle into Castleward to spend a bit of time exploring the bike trails there. We’d always taken Chloe on the Tagalong as the road up to Castleward is narrow and can be very busy. She’s having none of that now, so this year, we let her go under her own steam.
End of an era - no more Tagalong.

A major advantage of this is that we can now attempt the best off-road trail as a family (it’s too twisty for a Tagalong). This is something I’ve been really looking forward to. The terrain is really varied with great scenery and a range of environments through which the single track winds.

My nerves about letting Chloe loose were just beginning to ease when she stopped and said, “Mummy, I’ve a stone in my throat”. Further questioning revealed that instead of swallowing an actual stone, she was in fact, feeling very nervous herself! Cue an episode of Mummy guilt for accidentally forcing my kids into something they don’t want to do just because it’s something I really enjoy.

The other voice in my head was a bit more rational, though, reminding me that she wasn’t in any significant danger and perhaps this was an opportunity to reinforce some coping skills. We talked a little bit about how doing new things can be a bit nerve-wracking sometimes, but often, if we can overcome those feelings, we end up having a great time. I also reminded her that she was good at riding her bike and that she was in control of her speed, etc, etc.

Chloe then mentioned that she had, had a wee tumble at the start of the trail and she was scared she’d fall again. I gave her a wee hug and reminded her that, while it did hurt a little bit, she was ok now. She did look a bit tense though and her wee shoulders were up at her ears, so we practiced taking some deep breaths and blowing out hard while dropping our shoulders.

Less than a minute later, this was the result!

She flew round the rest of the trail having a ball and enjoyed posing for the obligatory “first proper trail as a family” photo. Unfortunately we’ve no snaps of the final section through the forest (the best bit) as we were just trying to keep up with them.

I asked Harry what he thought of his first downhill trail. The reply came: “Awesome but can we come back another time without Chloe so I don’t have to keep stopping to wait for her?”

“Er, no. I don’t think my nerves could cope with that”. Maybe I need to take a leaf out of my own book? What does everyone else do to calm their nerves or those of their Little Trekkers’? Does anyone else wrestle with the cost/benefits balance of encouraging their Little Trekkers to expand their comfort zones or push past minor mishaps?

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About the Author

Kerry Teague

Kerry Teague

About Me & Mine

Ashley (Dad/ 3rd child/ chief photographer). Me - Kerry (Mum/ the sensible one... sometimes). Harry (8) can't sit still and Chloe (nearly 6, thinks she can do everything Harry can and makes pretty good attempts too). We spend as much time as possible having "adventures" (which consist of anything which takes place outside and is accompanied by official “adventure sweeties”).

Favourite place in the world:

Ashley and me - The Ards Peninsula, Strangford Lough, The Mourne Mountains . Harry – Alan’s farm, anywhere with mud, sand, bugs or tractors or that requires a paddle or harness to get to. Chloe - Anywhere as long as it's outside and preferably with somewhere to toast marshmallows and drink “North Pole” hot chocolate

Favourite things to do outdoors:

Biking, climbing, canoeing, digging holes on the beach, making dens (or anything out of sticks), looking for squirrels, butterflies, crabs and Gruffalos. Chloe loves to collect stones, but we try to discourage that as we invariably end up carrying the most precious ones home. She managed to stash about 20 in her bag on a recent weekend away in Ballycastle and cunningly talked Uncle Pancake into carrying her bag to the car so we wouldn’t find out until it was too late. She currently has a fairly large cairn in her bedroom! Harry has a model dairy farm complete with stone walls built from beach pebbles in his bedroom. Neither has much room left for sleeping.

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