The thick frost of the early morning draped the windows of my car in a white veil of crystals. Beautiful.

How very Canadian to be excited by the familiar sound of the snow scraper, made only more spectacular by the fact that my teenage son was excited to be given the task (he won’t love this job come January).

Then we took the backroads to our favourite forest trail out of town, and headed into the trees together for a long hike. The only baggage allowed was my camera. I gave him the task of taking photos, because I wanted to see how nature inspired him. I wanted him to be present in the moment. I wanted to do the same. Unplug. Pay attention. Breathe.

Autumn smells wonderful. The wet leaves and the pine needles making a carpet over the rich, dark earth. Coolness in the air. Like children, we stopped to watch our breath plume out in a fog, because again, only a Canadian would miss the sight of seeing their warm breath mix with cold air for the first time in months.

As we stepped over knotted tree limbs and jumped across rocks over the creek, we had to watch our step, which ensured we could talk without making eye contact. Boys like that. I’m okay with it too. You can learn a lot about someone when there is space to open up. You can learn even more when you take away the pressure to fill in the gaps.

Nature is the soundstage for simple conversations.

In two hours we covered a lot of ground and a wide range of topics from hockey to high school, American politics and gender equality. We talked about what it’s like to be in the generation where your every move has the potential to be broadcast on social media. His future is nothing like my past. His innocence is short lived. His insight is mature beyond experience.

While my peers judge his generation for their addiction to phones and the internet, we do so without looking up from our own phones or looking away from Facebook ourselves.

We have to be careful not to be a generation of hypocrites.

The way I see it, if you don’t make the time you won’t take the time to do the things that matter, the things that inspire your happiness, open your heart and clear your mind.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be present with the children you invited to join your life. Pay attention. Speak, then listen. Lead then follow.

Sometimes all our kids need is for someone to ask them how they see the world, to share the lens, and appreciate their view without judgement.

Scrape the frost. Make clouds with hot air. Be both a child of wonder, and an adult with insight: complex and silly.

It’s worth our time.