Friday, March 28, 2014

// c h a s i n g b u t t e r f l i e s //

I grew up with a big yard, chickens, and a garden so large it had a pathway through it.  I remember picking a few things from the garden and selling it out front.  I remember chasing butterflies and hearing my mom say "don't go near the road, dani."  And then, you know what?  That darn butterfly flew all the way to the road and somehow, I forgot my mother's words.  "DANI, DON'T GO NEAR THE ROAD!"  I was always a bit of a dreamer.  I remember laying in bed at night and attempting to grasp how big the universe was: I was six.  Infinite space and beauty have always kept me in awe, and I doubt that will ever change.  I hope to instill the same love in my children: the love of open spaces and dirt under bare feet.  
Since becoming a mother, I've fallen even more in love with nature.  I think it's because having two children so close together has kept me indoors so often.  Not because I want to be, but because it's been so incredibly difficult to attempt an adventure outdoors by myself.  Most of photos I take of the sea and the trees are taken while Jimmy is there with us.  You see, most people space out their children a little further.  The older one is usually able to follow directions a little better by the time the younger one is able to run.  However, Asher started walking at 8 months and they both want to run their separate ways.  I can't chase them both, so I use the sling for Asher.  But now that Asher is older, he wants to run as well.  And they are both going their separate ways.  Elliot is almost three, so obviously, he is a lot better at exploring, yet staying close.  I am going to be honest here:  I feel like I've waved the white flag of surrender.  I've kept them indoors too often.  I've chosen the easier route.  But exhaustion has made me lazy.  I know that's understandable and I shouldn't push myself.  I don't feel guilt, but I'm remembering how I want to raise my boys.  Wild and free and in love with the simple things.  The simple joys of finding leaves and feather, rocks and favorite climbing trees.  
And now, as I was reading this site,  Mystic Mamma, I think I've realized something important:  Maybe, a lot of my hardships could be avoided if I put less boundaries on my kids, especially when it comes to exploring nature.  I know, that sounds crazy.  But I remember some great advice a friend gave me (she has four kids).  I was micromanaging Elliot at a friend's house: "Elliot, no.  Don't touch that.  No, not that either.  wait, come here."  She told me something she had learned:  Pick and choice what you correct.  Don't correct everything: only things that really matter." (for example, is something going to break? will they get hurt? will someone else get hurt?)   In short, give yourself a break and give your kid a break."  I always feel like my kids don't listen, but what happens if that's because I'm giving them too much to listen to.  Of course it would seem that way.  They are kids and so many limitations will only burden them.  They may act out and ultimately, they won't enjoy things that are supposed to bring them pure and innocent joy.

So, here is my promise to my kids:
I'm going to say "no" less often.
I'm going to let you explore, even if it gives me a little bit of anxiety.
I'm going to have less anxiety.
And I'm going to give you less rules.

And ultimately, I promise to show you peace through nature.  And love through letting you be yourself.  Explore, my little boys.  Explore the world and don't forget to chase the butterflies. I will only stop you if you forget the road is ahead.  <3

Here is a quote I found on the Mystic Mamma site:
“Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder. Wonder is important as it a motivator for life long learning….”
“The world of nature is not a scene or even a landscape. Nature for the child is sheer sensory experience. Children judge the natural setting not by its aesthetics, but rather by how they can interact with the environment. Children have a unique, direct and experiential way of knowing the natural world as a place of beauty, mystery and wonder….”
“Children’s special affinity for the natural environment is connected to the child’s development and his or her way of knowing. Plants, together with soil, sand, and water, provide settings that can be manipulated. You can build a trench in the sand and dirt or a rock dam over a stream, but there’s not much you can do to a jungle gym except climb, hang, or fall off.
“Natural elements provide for open-ended play that emphasize unstructured creative exploration with diverse materials. The high levels of complexity and variety nature offers invites longer and more complex play. Because of their interactive properties, plants stimulate discovery, dramatic pretend play, and imagination. P
“Plants speak to all of the senses, so it’s not surprising that children are closely attuned to environments with vegetation. Plants, in a pleasant environment with a mix of sun, shade, color, texture, fragrance, and softness of enclosure also encourage a sense of peacefulness.”
“Natural settings offer qualities of openness, diversity, manipulation, exploration, anonymity and wildness. All the manufactured equipment and all the indoor instructional materials produced by the best educators in the world cannot substitute for the primary experience of hands-on engagement with nature.
“They cannot replace the sensory moment where a child’s attention is captured by the phenomena and materials of nature: the dappled sparkle of sunlight through leaves, the sound and motion of plants in the wind, the sight of butterflies or a colony of ants, the imaginative worlds of a square yard of dirt or sand, the endless sensory experience of water, the infinite space in an iris flower.”
~By Randy White & Vicki Stoecklin from “Children’s Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to Nature”

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  1. ahhh I love this! Thank you for sharing, I have to constantly remind myself to get outside.

  2. Fantastic, Danielle. Loved this post!



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