Friday, January 28, 2011

The Great Outdoors, a view from inside

I'm a great believer in the power of nature.  Now you wouldn't necessarily know it as you'll usually find me inside, all nice and cozy, but I like the idea of connecting with creation.  I've had profound moments of reflection in the woods and by streams, and I want my kids to have the same chance to experience the wonder, beauty, and peace of the outdoors. I've read Last Child in the Woods and I Love Dirt, and I admire the work of our local outdoor adventure club for families, Kids in the Valley Adventuring (KIVA). I know that this outside time is getting more scarce for kids these days, and I find myself struggling to get out and play with the kids when it's cold, or wet, or hot, or just easier to plop down in front of the TV.  So, in part to counteract that tendency, we enrolled our son in a preschool that plays outside almost everyday, regardless of the weather.  It's a bit of a hassle for us to dress him in multiple layers of long underwear, coat, gloves, hat, boots (see below) and multiple shirts each day, and my car is like a sand and mulch pit as he brings more and more of the outdoors home with him everyday, but he has a blast. 

But I realized today that his hour outside at preschool is not enough.  I'm not really sharing my value of the environment if I don't expose my kids to the great outdoors.  So this afternoon, when the kids started pushing each other's buttons (not coincidentally after their alloted video game time), we got bundled up and went outside.  We have a Civil War battlefield park right across the street with a hiking trail, which was a big draw in us buying our house.  We took the kids' tricycle and they had a wonderful time exploring, picking out walking sticks, collecting rocks, checking out the water level in the creek, and riding circles around the monument.  I didn't even realize until today that Maryn could ride the tricycle by herself (as we probably haven't been on it since the late fall).  She was so proud, and Brady was a different child than the whiny, argumentative boy he had been just minutes earlier.  He was making up stories and games with me, and eagerly encouraged us to explore the trail.  He was ecstatic to encounter a hiker with a dog and struck up a conversation (which reminds me to consider having the "stranger" conversation).

We only spent about 20 minutes out as our hands began to get numb, but it changed all of our attitudes.  We pledged to do it again tomorrow (and Brady reminded me not to forget the gloves next time).

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