33 of 1000 – Outdoors

  • Maureen, “Teach them to enjoy the outdoors.” Tip #7

Enjoying the outdoors was not something so prevalent in my childhood.  I was forced outside all the time, but “enjoying the outdoors” was something different. I’m glad Maureen mentioned it in tip #7.  

Encouraging outdoor play was likely limited due to the fact I was heavily asthmatic.  (Maybe that’s why fun has been an issue?  Hmmmm) I couldn’t do much physically without a trip to the emergency room.  

To further complicate matters, my Mom was extremely fearful of injury.  She predicted injury or trouble almost every time I left the house.  I would not dare try something new!

I remember hearing an adage, when a child has climbed a tree he will draw a different tree than a child who has never climbed a tree.  I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but I had never climbed a tree.  I decided, my son would climb a tree!  I grabbed up my baby and off we went!

I took a 2-year old Michael in my arms for a planned hike, picnic, and tree climbing.  I smile as I recall my lack of understanding in every facet of my plan.

Michael was only 2!  He hadn’t even mastered walking, but I was taking him on a hike. He certainly couldn’t climb, and the significance of a picnic in the woods would be lost on him, for sure!  I was so ill-prepared, but how I tried!

With barely any concept of childhood development, this event did increase my knowledge.  I recall I was angry with Michael as he wanted to stop ‘hiking.’  He was likely grabbing leaves or rocks, enjoying nature.  There was no time for that, I had a plan!  We were going to climb a tree!

Something within me fed an urgency to give Michael every experiences I could.  I raced to unravel my personal damage, and hurried to make all things right.

Our hike was brief, likely minutes.  We sat for a picnic, then we climbed our first tree!  I still have a branch of it in his baby book.  In some ways, we were growing up together. In every way we were experiencing childhood together.

At the same time, with a similar level of understanding, I put Michael on the teeter-totter. My god!  He wasn’t strong enough to hold on, I now know.  I jumped on the other side, eager to give this playground experience!

I hoisted him up, and down he came.  I ran to him, picked him up, and sat bawling as I cradled him in the playground.  I scolded myself relentlessly.  What have I done?  How did I not know?  I could have killed my baby, and I could have!  Sigh!  

I look back sweetly on how hard I tried, sadly on how alone I felt, and tragically on how poorly prepared I was.  In the end, I did my best to instill an appreciation for the outdoors.  There is such fun to be had outside, so many adventures.  

Many years later, at about age 7 Michael was a ‘country-kid.’  I’m happy he was able to play and climb.  Sheila’s (Mom #7) family really enriched this experience.

Michael had a wonderful childhood.  I think time spent playing outdoors can help us all to feel like kids again.  Life really is in the simple things.

Thanks for the memories Maureen.  I’m sure you have a much better grasp on age-appropriate activities, than did I!

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