This week, let’s do something a little different.
Who is up for a nature challenge?
Don’t worry, it won’t be too taxing!
Something I noticed as a VERY ambitious first-time mama, was that I didn’t seem to be “normal.” Ever had that realization? Ha!
I won’t go into all the different areas and ways I noticed this, only as it relates to nature. ;)
I was that little girl who could hardly wait to turn over the rocks to see what insects were busy beneath them.
I was the 8 year old convincing my friends it would be fun to have a worm circus on my playset.
I was the one who had all the maples mapped out in my neighborhood because those were the ones that the forest tent caterpillars loved and their blue was just too beautiful not to add a few of them to my critter cage to observe for a bit.
Fast forward 20+ years:
I was SO excited about immersing my little one in the wonder of nature that I signed my barely 1 year old up for a program at the Cincy Nature Center. I convinced a couple of other parents to do the same. Our babies could not even fully walk yet…we were hard-core nature lovers! ;)
This is where the veil was lifted.
I witnessed over and over again parents, who had also signed their children up for this nature tots class, that were averse to nature!
They were freaked out by the insects. They were avoiding the mud at all costs and making sure their babies weren’t near it either.
These parents were refusing to touch things because they were grossed out by them. You get the idea.
Knowing what you now know about me, you could understand that I couldn’t comprehend the aversion to many of these things. In my new mama state, I also could not fathom why they would sign their child up for something they clearly didn’t celebrate or jive with themselves.
As parents, there are things or opportunities that we believe are going to help or be beneficial to our little ones. Maybe we didn’t get these experiences ourselves. Perhaps we don’t really understand, know how to interact with or “do” the thing or don’t even personally love it.
At the same time, we want to offer it to our children.
Here's the thing, if our intuition is leading us to offer something we see as a gift to our children, we need to support it all the way through.
Signing our children up for a class indicates to them that it is of value. Us, as the parents, then running from that thing, shrieking about it, labeling it as “gross” or something to be avoided at all costs, is sending mixed messages.
And guess which message is going to come through the strongest and loudest….yep—you guessed it.
Let’s be real: squiggly worms, squishy mud, harvest men crawling up your arm and splashing in puddles are not for everyone. I get that…now—not so much back then. They are for me and so I signed my children up for the classes that gave them more of that with little buddies!
For those of you that see the value in connecting with nature, but it’s not ALL your favorite, here is your challenge:
This week, go explore the outdoors with your little one.
Your destination can be a city, state or national park, your backyard, your street where there is a tree or some grass, shrubs, flowers—you get the idea. Let everywhere and anywhere be your playground.
When you see an insect, animal, plant, even the weather and you are tempted to label, judge or react strongly to it, see if you can reframe that tendency, that pattern of yours.
Ask yourself, “Is this something I want to pass on to my children?”
Maybe you can even recall where you “learned” this behavior, judgement or label.
Can you practice being more neutral towards these things?
This will allow your little one the freedom to form their own relationship with, feelings, ideas and ultimately opinions about the natural world.
Isn’t this the gift we want to give them anyway?
YOUR weekly wonder can be simply witnessing and relishing the awe and joy of your child fully connecting to the natural world around them.
One day, your child will thank you.
Looking back, I’m thankful I wasn’t reprimanded for going into neighbors yards and “stealing” their beautiful invasive caterpillars. ;) I’m thankful I wasn’t judged (at least not to my face) for collecting worms for my “circus” or playing with roly-polies.
Now, go have fun exploring that big, beautiful world of ours together with your little adventurer!
P.S. remember to check out the monthly booklists to support your nature adventures and interests on this site under "Books and More"!