Vacationing in northern Norway is a risky venture if you’re looking for sunny, warm weather, and this year, it seems we’re getting our fair share of rain and wind, usually as the local specialty, the “Horizontal Rain” combo.

So imagine our delight when the rains let up this evening and we caught a glimpse of this round, shiny thing in the sky that we’d almost forgotten the name of (and before you ask: yes, sunny summer evenings are completely natural up here north of the Arctic Circle. That is, as long as the aforementioned horizontal rain doesn’t get in the way) Out we go, taking the kids for a late stroll along one of the local farm roads. After a little while, the kids start pulling me by the arm saying “Daddy, can we walk to the top of that hill?”

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I make a quick assessment. This is a 350 m / 1000 ft hill, and with the legs of a five and a seven year old, the round trip would take a couple of hours along wet, largely unmarked trails. Not the kind of thing you feel enthusiastic about as a parent when the usual bed time is less than an hour away and you know that the kids have had a busy day. I picture having to carry two exhausted and crying children through the woods, so I lay out all the strong and obvious reasons why we can’t do it tonight. “You will be so exhausted that you won’t be able to walk back down” … “We don’t have the right clothes and shoes on for this” … “We didn’t bring anything to eat in case you get hungry” …

No response. Just a couple of backs getting smaller as the two stubborn little creatures start walking away from me into the woods. Well, I have no choice but to follow them.

Half an hour later, as we are about to start on the steepest part of the climb, I launch another offensive, restating my objections in my usual “Daddy knows best” tone of voice. I even consider throwing in a “there are mountain trolls up there”, but think the better of it at the last minute. Again, no luck, and before I catch my breath, I have to run for a bit to catch up.

After another half hour and a couple more halfhearted attempts to make the kids see that they really aren’t able to do this, this is what I see when I reach the top.

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So what did I learn tonight? Apart from the observation that this performance on my part doesn’t qualify me for a Nobel Prize in parenting, I learned that I should spend a lot less of my energy on telling people why something can’t be done. Unless something is downright impossible or dangerous, everyone will probably be better off if I spend more time thinking about how something can be done instead.

Probably just as valid in a professional setting as in family life. We’ll see if that lesson sticks until I am back from vacation in a couple of weeks…

Finally, the trip merits a few additional pictures:

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A babbling brook by the trail. So beautiful that it stopped my nagging for a little while.

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Just starting on the way down, and the kids are about to learn their lesson for the day: a steep descent is often both slower and tougher than the ascent.

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On the way down. More horizontal rain on the way?