Sunday evening I had a definite successful parenting moment.
I often lament the lack of outdoor exploration in children’s lives. We have a wonderful creek right in our back yard, we share that creek with many neighbors of young children and yet, I rarely see any children playing in this creek, let alone playing in their beautiful back yards at all.
Kacen was in need of some outdoor play Sunday afternoon. So we ran outside and played a little star wars on the trampoline. That wasn’t quite quenching my desire for outdoor play so we walked over towards the creek. I turned to Kacen and asked, “ya wanna go get in the water?” He quickly replied, “NO!” and began to back away. Was my son really afraid to go into the creek?! What have I been doing wrong as a parent? Why was his intitial reaction to this wonderful stream of lulling water, fear? First I felt bad, I failed his childhood. Then I felt indignant. How dare you fear this creek? What sort of soft pansy childhood have I dealt you that you don’t even want to feel the water?
I quickly kicked off my shoes and went to show him how nice the water was. I beckoned him to come in with me. But still he would not. In fact, he began to run away. I told him if he went inside he would sit in time out, haha I don’t know how to be a mom. He didn’t care and still backed away up the hill. Luckily, before he made it inside my two year-old had woken up from her nap and came wondering outside to find me. I hollered at her to come get in the creek and luckily her fear and inhibitions have not quite settled in and she gladly let me undress her and place her in the water.
Finally, after watching his sister enter the water and double checking that there were no “sharks” or “lobsters” in the water he let me help him into the creek.
At first there was some trepidation. He would only tip his toes in then back up onto the dirt, and repeat over and over again. But within five minutes his shell of fear just broke, it was absolutely gone, he was splashing his full body in the water and quickly had to be stripped down to his skivvies in order to lather his body in mud.
As I watched my two little filthy monkeys splash and play in the water and mud I felt a real sense of success as a mother. I had taught my children to feel free and safe in their back yard, an extension of our home. I remembered that a bath at night was worth an hour of entertainment. I taught my children the name of bugs and plant life in our little stream. It was not just play time, it was a reconnection, a learning experience, a full sensory immersion experience of life, of the beauty that surrounds us so closely. Yes, it was a very success Sunday afternoon.