We played in the dirt, jumped in an abandoned old speedboat that was propped up on the property. Played in a huge shed full of tractors. Climbed very high trees over a swamp. We had incredible adventures right in our backyard.
Today, when it comes to playing outside, I'm a bit of a helicopter parent. I find myself constantly saying, "Walking feet on the sidewalk! Watch out for the swing! Don't run with sticks! Get back on the grass! Stay where you can see me!" I'm constantly directing. Our backyard ends at the woods and between the neighbor and us there is a public sidewalk. It ends at the treeline, so its not used often. On the other side of us is an empty lot. We have no fence. I never let the girls play on their own because I feel too far from them if I'm in the house. Too many stories about children being taken right under their parents' noses swirl around my paranoid brain.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Unseasonably warm. I put baby/toddler boy down for his nap around 12:30pm (he had refused his morning nap) and the girls begged to go outside. I had things to do inside, so I walked them out to the backyard, which is down the deck's flight of steps and gave them their boundaries. We reviewed what they were to do if I called their names and then I set them free. I landed the helicopter. I went back into the house.
I could hear them at all times. I watched them out the window every couple of minutes. I sat on the deck for awhile reading blogs while they played, but I left them alone. I kept my mouth closed. I let them play in the dirt, go into the woods a few feet to gather grass cuttings, sticks, more dirt and whatever else struck their fancy!
They played together so beautifully outside. For 3 hours!!! I called them in only when the boy woke up. They came for chocolate milk and then took an hour and a half long bath! No fights, no arguing. They were having so much fun in the bath I literally had to drag them out of it! Teeth chattering because the water had turned cold, but they didn't care. It was lovely.
That's what childhood should be. Carefree, fun and full of laughter.
|Three under a teepee|