Out in Connecticut, visiting my brother, I took the kids outside. He has a long narrow lot with a large grassy area. It’s cut into a hillside so it slopes steeply above and below his driveway and yard. The early fall air felt great and refreshing. My son ran up and down the long drive, enjoying the freedom of being outside. It didn’t take long before we were searching for something else to do. What did I do when I was a kid? I remember as a kid playing for endless hours in the woods surround my grandpa’s house in Minnesota. I tried to remember so I could show my son the pleasures of the woods. At home, our yard is filled with yellow dump trucks, a basketball hoop, sandbox, balls, a red wagon and a basket of toys. Entertainment is at our finger tips. But here, there was nothing but grass, trees, squirrels and rocks. It took a couple days for my mind to begin to adjust. “Let’s climb up this steep hill.” We held hands, we slipped on the pine needles, tripped over roots and made it up to the fence line. Going down was exciting too. We had to go slow and choose our footing carefully, then once we were a couple feet from the bottom we could let go and run! Then we looked at pinecones and acorns hidden beneath the trees. We made our way to the grassy slope next. It was so steep I suddenly remembered….this would be great to roll down. I showed Josiah how lie down and put his arms up like a log. I gave him a push and sent him tumbling! He loved it. My daughter too, only 10 months old, rolled. We laughed and rolled and then it was time to tackle mom. They screamed and we tickled. It was delightful. Pure fun had returned. I smiled as I gathered the kiddos and we headed inside for dinner. It took me several days, but I began to remember how to be a kid and how to show my two kids how to explore, create and have fun in the great outdoors. It was a wonderful refresher course from mother nature. I hope we never forget it.
Sick days are turning out to be some of my favorite days around here. Last week, I had a undulating stomach and was fighting fatigue. I immediately set my goals for the day to almost zero. I hung out on the couch and let my kiddos crawl over me. I experienced my son driving his matchbox car down my legs. After the couch, I moved to the floor, which is another invitation for children to climb aboard. I put my son on my feet and suspended him in the air like an airplane. My daughter practiced standing by balancing her 10 month old frame with a one-handed grip on my nose. I blew bubbles and my son screamed and screamed with delight!
In the afternoon, I pulled out one container of blue play dough and cookie cutters. We made Christmas tree cutouts that ended up looking like fish. After the play dough, a simple fort of blankets and pillows so again I could just lay on the floor in our tent and have fun without spending much energy. By evening I realized we had just enjoyed one of our best days together in weeks. A cancelled agenda mixed with lots of time and love was the perfect recipe. I guess being sick isn’t so bad if it slows me down enough to have delightful, quality time with the children I cherish. It was an unexpected blessing and a good lesson for me to remember.