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When a Bad Attitude Goes Good

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”  ~ Charles R. Swindoll

Before the summer began, I decided that Kyle needed to go outside and get exercise on a regular basis.  It seems like every weekend there is a lot going on, either picnics, yard work, cleaning, visiting family, so on and so on.  However, this weekend didn’t have much activity except for the usual church, Kyle’s workbooks, and piano and guitar.  I decided on Friday that we would get our exercise this weekend, everyday doing something else to get our heart rate up. Kyle knew I planned on having us walk or run or hike every day this weekend.  This was not a surprise by no stretch of the imagination.

Kyle and Aunt Heather Piper walking to Karens
Kyle and his Aunt Heather taking a walk to Karen's... book bag on... bucket hat on... socks and tennis shoes on...

Well, Kyle’s attitude did not exactly agree with mine.  To him, taking a walk is pure torture, which I don’t understand because, as a young boy, Kyle enjoyed walking down through the pasture, up through the woods and around the neighborhood.  I remember him strapping his blue book bag to his back, the blue one that had a polar bear on it, which I got him from one of my trips to Alaska.  He would have me put his socks and shoes on, he usually grabbed a hat of some sort, and down the road hand-in-hand we went to visit my cousin, Karen.  But, somewhere from the age of six or so till now, his attitude toward physical activity declined to a slow and painful whine and argument.

Yesterday tried my patience and my attitude about helping his physical well-being.  Kyle and I walked up and down the ridge totaling about two-and-a-half miles.  This was after I ran three miles earlier in the day.  Granted, going up the hill was difficult but the downward journey was easy.  We took breaks along the way… it wasn’t exactly boot camp.   I had to hear Kyle groan and complain the entire way…

“My feet hurt, I’m tired, I’m hot, Why do I have to do this? Aunt Heather, who said I have to do this? Aunt Heather, wait up. Aunt Heather I’m thirsty.”   Yep, it was painful and I don’t mean physically.  I tried to keep him positive, encouraging him the whole way saying, “You’re doing good buddy. Keep up bud, we only have a little bit longer. This isn’t bad walking in the shade,” and so on.

I must say, I had to leave him about 20 paces behind me for several reasons.  One, he was walking so slow it felt like I was standing still and two, I couldn’t listen to him whine any more.  When the walk was finished, he was really proud of himself, especially when my parents commented on how well he did.  His attitude changed from difficult to pretty positive.

Picture of a fallen tree Aunt Heather Piper taken by Kyle Piper
Kyle took a picture with his Nintendo 3DS of a tree that fell on a power line.

Today was no exception.   Kyle and I went hiking through the woods.  It was a bit of a struggle since he didn’t want to go. He threw a little bit of a temper tantrum and was a bit whiny and difficult before the trip began.  He wanted to wear his flip-flops, which I objected to since the ground was pretty uneven, wet and we had to go through the woods.  I wanted to make sure his feet and ankles were secure and protected.  Then I had to hear about his socks.  You see, Kyle has this theory that the people who make the socks are out to make him miserable.  He doesn’t like the seam in the toe,  or if the heel goes up past his ankle, or if they are longer than his ankles or if they don’t come up to meet his anklebone just perfect.  He doesn’t like thick socks but doesn’t like them too thin either.  Needless to say, this is an entire entry in itself.

I must say, I lost my patience and left for our three mile round trip voyage up through the ridge without him by my side.  I was about a good tenth to a quarter-of-a-mile ahead of him.  I heard him crying and whimpering almost the entire three quarters-of-a-mile up the ridge.  He made great timing, considering he closed the distance between us pretty good and he was crying the entire time.   I was pretty impressed even though I knew he was moving quickly because he was afraid to walk by himself.

Scooby ready for a walk with Aunt Heather Piper and Kyle Piper
Kyle took a picture of Scooby on our way through the orchard for our hike into the woods. Picture taken with his Nintendo 3DS.

When we got to the top of the road where it levels off, for another three quarters-of-a-mile he stopped crying and just kept pouting and made sure he walked really slow to prove a point.  That was until he heard a dog barking at him and he took off running toward me.  He was scared, which started to humble him and change his attitude.

He was still a bit on edge until we hit the turnaround point, then his attitude did a complete 180.  Without me saying anything except, “Good job buddy, we hit the half-way mark.”  He was more pleasant and back to being my sidekick again.  He was making small talk and telling me that the first thing he wants to do when we get home is get a big glass of water.  On the way down through the woods Kyle kept reminiscing about other trips up the hill saying, “Aunt Heather, remember when we took Scooby and you jumped off the side of the bank and took him with you?” and “Wouldn’t this be fun to snowboard down, like when we walked up here and the snow was past our knees?”

Hike through the woods with Aunt Heather Piper and Kyle
Kyle took a picture of a tree on one of our hikes with his Nintendo 3DS.

You know, it was easier making Kyle do things when he was smaller and it would be easier now to give in to him, but then again I would not be doing my job correctly.  And helping him reach that feeling of a sense of accomplishment makes it all worthwhile.  You know, I think he was happy we took the trip and, even with all the complaining, so was I.  He also changed my attitude and allowed me to realize why we take our walks, not just for the exercise, but also for the bonding experience and getting back to nature.  I’m glad I kept my attitude positive because it would have been easy to just start yelling, but then he might not have enjoyed the trip back like we did.

I know I should try to do some other activities that he would enjoy, which I do, but I don’t play any sports and I don’t think it’s bad to have Kyle realize he needs to get exercise.  Or should I disguise the exercise in another activity and not point out the health benefits?

Published inHiking & OutdoorsObservation & ImaginationPatienceReminiscing


  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

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