“Are you walking?,” we are frequently asked. The funny thing about this question is that it is usually either asked as we are walking….or perhaps at an albergue – and to be staying at one of those you need to have walked. Of course, people can *see* you are walking. What they actually mean is “can kids really walk?”. Some of them even go so far as to say, “My kids would never do/have done that” – or my favourite: I wouldn’t bring my kids – it’s hard enough for me!
And it’s true – I have seen people who look perfectly fit and healthy and probably half my age walk fewer miles and be hobbling like old grannies at the end of the day. My guess is that all the walking we did at home prepared us well.
“How far do you walk?” I dread this question, but it always pops out after the where-do-you-come-from? and how-old-are-you? We planned on about 15km a day, but have discovered that 20-25 is really comfortable and we know we can manage just in excess of 30. This answer is easily accepted by those who walk 40km in a day, but must seem boasty to those who are struggling with not-so-many-miles. Sometimes I opt for the vague, “We go as far as the children are comfortable with.”
This going further than planned appears to be the opposite of what most people do. We have heard so many people saying, “I was going so far, so fast, but now I realise I need to slow down.” I think because we set our expectations low, we were able to ramp it up with no ill effect.
The other dreaded question is: you have four children? It looks obvious, right? We made the mistake early on of NOT disclosing the full truth about the other four. Then when we met a pilgrim a few days later and they had heard through the grapevine that we actually had four more, they wanted to check if their information source was correct. So now we just tell the whole story and get it over and done with!
Levi (13) is a bit tired of the twins question. Or, more to the point, he is tired of being mistaken as the younger of the two boys! Micaiah (11) does not share his dis-enthusiasm;-)
But they all loved it the other day when an Italian cyclist with a camera on his helmet slowed down beside them and asked their ages. He was impressed with the 10, 11 and 13….then when he caught up with the 8-year-old, who was striding out in front and has built herself a bit of a camino reputation, he almost fell off his bike!!
Where did you start? is a very common question, and oh, how I have begun to regret our patchwork camino. The honest answer to this question is so convoluted, but see the paragraph above about how many kids we have to see why we have to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Every Time.
I am really happy to report that no one has asked if the kids are having fun. Plenty have asked if they enjoy walking and the more deeply-probing sorts ask what they enjoy the most. “Ice-creams,” seems such a shallow answer;-) I’m intrigued that no one asks ME if I’m enjoying myself, and I haven’t heard any other adult asked either, for that matter – which may be just as well, because perhaps we would all answer THE ICECREAMS!!
How do you motivate the kids to walk? I was asked this for the first and second times today. Basically, I don’t. They asked to come. When we walk at home, they just know it is an expectation we have – they will walk. I do have one little tip though. When they (think they) are tired, they are allowed to call for a break. We will all wait for them to be ready to walk on. Ella-Rose has called for a break a couple of times and has also asked us to slow down (during her grumbly power struggles) – but, you know what? When kids have it in their power to stop, they usually want to continue!