Tuesday, July 03, 2007
About a year ago I had a great conversation with Hope; I told her she should post her thoughts but Hope is a wonderfully occupied mother and due with her little Number Four any day now. So I'll throw it out here because these warm summer days offer so much promise!
I send my kids outside often. When I'm trying to get something done or to burn some of their boundless energy, they are scooted out the back door where they race around on trikes or play in Papa's wood pile or tease/torture the dog. Outside is a good place.
But there's been times when I, in need of fresh air or a diversion, go out back with them and sit on the swing and watch them play, or even start bouncing a ball around. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes when I've gone out there Xavier looks at me perplexed and ask, "Mom, what do you need?" or "What are you doing?" Was it really that odd of a sight to see Mama out in the backyard with the children?! Sad, I know. But it was the truth.
Hope pointed out to me that there is a big difference in sending your kids outside and taking them outside. My boys get so excited if I actually play with them! Or sometimes they'll even ask me to simply watch them play.
But beyond the backyard is where the treasures are. We are blessed to live near the beach, and mountains, and two State Parks that are within ten minutes of us north and south. What fun we have walking the trails, throwing sticks in the water, or picking up rocks to watch the tiny crabs scuttle away! We get messy sometimes; but the payoff is worth it. I want to fill their minds with many memories of being outside in God's creation and imagining Explorer games and finding a new kind of snake or bird to wonder about. I want them to be familiar with various plants and trees and learn to love and respect nature. I want them to fall asleep at night happily exhausted and fulfilled with the sights and sounds and feel of rocks, dirt, driftwood and shells. And I want them to have fond memories of Mom being excited to do this stuff with them.
You may be thinking that this is nice but you are in the city and the nearest sign of nature is the neon palm tree in the nail parlor window down the road. But even urbanites have a world to explore! If it's not practical to travel frequently to open or natural space, simple walks around the block can be significant in a child's life. Don't walk like you're on a mission to lose 20 pounds (though this can be a nice added benefit!) but simply enjoy being outside with the children. Run up and down stairways. Point out "helicopters" that fall from maple trees. Whistle with a piece of grass in between your fingers. Say hello to neighbors. Give to the panhandlers. Feed the ducks at the city park. Let your kids learn the public transit system and TALK with strangers on the bus! There is much to learn and explore in ANY environment. And God has placed us each in our own particular place for a reason. And as Catholics, our community is sanctified by our very presence if we are in the state of grace... so we should really dive into it as much as our stations in life allow.
So live that difference sometimes. Let the laundry sit there for just a half hour longer and take your children outside.
Ellie Peck ::
6:54 AM ::