Cowabungans 3.0

Both my sons are now married and have two children each. Both my sons are driven to spend as much time as possible outdoors. Both my sons have soul mates who share this yen. Both my sons are raising Cowabungans 3.0, our grandchildren, a third generation of Cowabunga spirit-imbibed adventurers.

Although I grew up in a rather conventional suburban family and environment, there was, and still is, something about taking a calculated risk that intrigues me. Although my parents were what I judge to have been levelheaded people, my dad was drawn to take a few career risks in his lifetime, urged on by that "American dream" of striking it rich. Sometimes it worked for him, and sometimes it didn't. My husband's "urges," and mine however, aren't fortune seeking-related, but that of seeking experiences and knowledge through travel, encounters, and "doing"!

As a journalist, I have met many interesting and unique people and recounted their stories. It is inspiring to learn what people do, and have done, to get to where they are, and to know that life doesn't have to flow in a straight line (and it usually doesn't).

Michel and I tried to concentrate on, and give free rein (within reason!), to Sean's and Brendan's individual yearnings, tendencies, and budding talents as they were growing up. Today we see that they employ a similar playbook for their children's upbringing. At the age of two, their children were all riding bicycles. Now they swim, they sail, they ski, they rock climb, they camp, they hike, they kayak, they paddle board, they run footraces, they jog, they scoot around bike park curves, ramps, and obstacles. They spend a lot of time outdoors, all year round, in the sun, water, snow, and mountains. The four of them range from 3-to-6 years old. Their parents urge them to try new things, to explore what they are capable of, to conquer that nagging fear or doubt inside. Mom and Dad require that their offspring finish what they start, within the realm of their capability.

We rationed TV time for our boys: none during the week (evenings were devoted to family dinner time and homework), and possibly a video on a Friday or Saturday night, as they usually spent their weekend days sailing, building boat models, hiking, flying remote control planes, do-it-yourself projects...We didn't have to fret about smartphones, iPads, and such in the 1990s. (I do remember, however, having to put my foot down on AOL "chat room" time, which one son in particular, would surreptitiously pursue on his computer screen while supposedly doing his homework!)

Our sons and their partners have more hurdles to navigate in this arena today. Yes, it's harder being a warden now, and our young parents are walking the fine line attentively. To totally forbid all contact with electronics is to flirt with problems down the road. Some computer skills are necessary and forbidding all such contact could invite a future backlash from their offspring.

Our clan has grown and we are a tenacious bunch: Michel and me, Sean and Christin, Brendan and Chloé. We six have ambitions and our principles, which don't always mesh with each other's (but we are all on the same page regarding the importance of maintaining those principles, always serving as examples to the children). How could our little guys not be of a similar ilk?

Our grandchildren don't know yet what Cowabunga was—and is—but one day they will, and then they will understand the ways of their fathers, and why I anoint them Cowabungans 3.0.