Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cicadas and Maple Seeds

My one key belief in raising a child is that being outside is normally better. Taking Michael outside has calmed many a tantrum, relieved tedious boredom, and allowed him to do the one thing that boys love more than anything else - get dirty. I’ll go so far as to say that I believe that being outdoors is like being in the ultimate classroom for children. There is so much to be learned from watching balls roll down hills, trees blow in the wind, and clouds dance across the sky.

It’s been pretty hot lately, so we have spent a lot of time indoors. On Sunday, I decided to change that up a little. I took Michael on a walk before the heat really set in. It was warm and humid, and the smell of earth, and leaves, and the corn fields was strong in the air. Michael wasn’t thrilled to be strapped into his stroller, but I was trying to get some exercise in, and not the kind that involves keeping a two year old out of a creek.

I know every parent has things that they want to pass on and share with their children. Some people look forward to sharing their love of singing, cooking, shopping, fixing cars, reading, playing video games, and in Andy’s case, playing sports and watching Star Wars. Obviously, the love I’m trying to share with Michael is my love of nature and the natural world.

Our local park is actually a farm park. It has corn fields and an old barn, but it also has several creeks and some wooded areas. It’s a wonderful little spot for the naturalist in me, and I subject Michael to as much of my knowledge as I can. He’s already heard an earful about the local birds, and now I’m working in some tree and wild flower tidbits as well. I was overjoyed with his enthusiasm over yelling “chicory” at all the little blue flowers throughout our walk, although it did cut down on our ability to get up close to most of the birds. For some reason they seem to find yelling children frightening, I can’t imagine why.

Later in the day, when the heat had really set in, Michael wanted to go outside again. The decision was between Sponge Bob or stifling heat, the heat won.

We ended up sitting under the maple tree out front. One of my neighbors showed Michael that you can turn the maple seeds into helicopters that spin down to the ground, and ever since then, he demands that I get “more airplanes.” So, on a hot and sticky afternoon, Michael and I sat on the curb tossing seed pods into the air and watching them drift across the parking lot. I must have gone through several hundred of them before he got tired of it. Then, he decided that he wanted to fly instead, so I laid back in the grass and lifted him on my legs, letting him finish up by having him slide down to give me a big hug. I got about 20 hugs before we decided to head inside and cool off.

I don’t have any illusions that Michael is going to be the next great biologist. I realize that he may not end up with the same interests that I have, and that’s okay. But, for now, I’m going to keep talking about what we see and hear in the environment. I’m going to continue to explain that the loud buzzing noises are the cicadas, and that trees get their energy from sun light. And, if all he gains from it is to be more observant of the world around him, than I know I will have succeeded.

This post took forever to get around to writing. I almost just posted…On a hot Sunday, Michael and I watched maple seeds auto rotate to the ground. But it didn’t really catch what I was trying to say.


Maria said...

What a wonderfully written post. You are doing a great job showing Michael all of the important things. He is very lucky to have such an in tune Mommy.

Steph said...

Cooper loves those helicopters too. Our neighbor has a tree that sheds 1,000s into our backyard, we spend lots of time making the helicopters fly. Fun times. Outside time always makes Cooper feel better too and we need it this week except it's raining lots and he does not like to be out in the rain (yet).

Heidi Ongbongan said...

Joanna so much more poetic and well written than my little ditty about the wetlands park. But the feelings are the same. I love the outdoors which makes living in Vegas during the summer tough.
I had completely forgotten the helicopters! That's great to pass on your knowledge and love of the outdoors.

LauraC said...

Love the image of you and your son playing in the grass outside. Does life get any sweeter?

Stacey said...

Michael is a lucky kid.

Unfortunately, I hate being outdoors. On the other hand, Cole loves every second of being outdoors. I have to force myself to walk him to the pond across the street to watch the egret. But man oh man does he glow when he's out there.

If you're ever in MI you are welcome to borrow my toddler for a while.

Mama Mia said...

Great post! And good for you going out int that heat!

Deanna said...

Bonding time! Not only is he learning about the world around him and how to observe, but you're both creating some wonderful memories. That's awesome. Great post!

Lisa said...

Wow, beautifully written! What a wonderful thing you are doing for him. Reminds me I need to do it with my own kid's more often! :-)~Lisa