23 April 2010


My Lilliana is on our deck, playing with her sister, Olivia's, old Barbies. The air is cool - it is quiet & sunny - pine branches hang over our railing (we have a BIG hemlock next to us that provides such a pretty backdrop to all our dinners on the deck, late nights with the chiminea and toasty marshmallows, etc.). I don't feel bad today - do have to get some writing / editing done, but... I'm glad she has this alone time - in the morning - outside.

I have a lot of outdoor memories as a kid - dirty feet, voices on the air after dark as we play hide n seek, etc., but... today - I'm remembering a day when it seemed my mom was preoccupied with my brothers, and... I had to be young because I think one of them was still a baby - the other too young to come out and play with me, so... she let me go into the back yard - early morning - much earlier than usual. Our backyard was full of old apple trees (our house was built on the grounds of an old orchard), and we had a patio, so .... I remember taking off my brown sandals, and walking on the cold ground in my bare feet - so cold it made my shins ache :-). There was dew on the ground - apples - and.... because I wasn't used to being out so early, the shadows the tree branches made looked different. I was a little cold in this shade, so I ventured into the yard just a little bit - tempted by the woods and a field just beyond our backyard - because even the birds and other animals sounded different to me, and... of course, I was curious.

I'm wondering if Lil is feeling the same thing - a lot of birds singing (we have babies perched on a nearby house porch) - no tree branch trimming today - very little traffic, so.... on this cool morning, with toys she's never seen before, the backyard familiar but different.... today.... does she feel something special in the air. Spring? Comfort of Mom and big brother nearby? Does she smell coffee from the house, basil from the herb pots - what? Hard to tell...;-).

Good cause: I saw this boy on a commercial (and, now, apparently, there is a story on him); he has Muscular Dystrophy, and his family has a local peanut butter business to raise money for the disease. Check it out.

Good point: For women, the fact that Nike consistently backs their misbehaving athletes is a problem. Read here.

Good clothes: To get the retro brown sandals (and I've touted these before), the little white button-up sweater I had on the day of my above story (and I know you all probably had one too) and more, go here.

Misc. Mother's Day and Spring "Stuff" to remember: Pittsburghers (and others, of course), don't forget to register for "The Race for the Cure" - can do so here. Also, kinda cute idea for a Mother's Day photo shoot (for those of you - A. pregnant and B. so inclined to travel to Chicago - or - C. able to find a similar solution in your own area) from Belly Dance Maternity. And... time to get on those CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture); our local pick is Harvest Valley Farms.

One quick rant (as I close): Yesterday, we went to the park and were ACCOSTED by a bunch of much bigger, much older, very rough kids - all from a nearby school, celebrating Earth Day (school has no playground). I do appreciate kids being kids, and I think everyone should enjoy the city parks, but .... it is not appropriate for 140 + lb. kids to jump on baby swings while babies are swinging - it is not appropriate to knock a little boy backwards down the slide (which happened) - it is not appropriate to use abusive language to tell a 3 year old girl to get out of a tunnel (which also happened). Some of the teachers were paying attention - some were not. Some were VERY aware that the kids were being too wild with all the little ones in the park - also celebrating Earth Day on a beautiful sunny morning / afternoon. I left with a group of parents and kids, some threatening to call the school - some just upset - ALL the little kids intimidated. I think, as warm / outside play weather really gets going, we should all try to be kind, accommodating and gentle with each other (and this from the mother of some very spirited, tough kids). Again... my two cents... for what it's worth....

And, with that.... I've begun following a blog on "free range parenting" on my page - sort of an experimental thing for me because I do not condone hovering, but... I also think that sometimes "letting nature take it's course", etc. can be a bit cruel (bullying and all that), but... it came up twice this week with two of my friends (you guys know who you are - so thanks for the links, heads up), so... I thought - enough thinking about it - time to post / follow :-). Let me know what you think - opinions REALLY appreciated, as always.

Photo: Lil playing alone in her room - something she seems to like to do.


TKW said...

My mother hovered, and I'm trying to be a little more laid back than she was. I'd like to find a balance between hovering and just letting it all hang in the air...

But it's hard not to jump in when you feel they might get hurt, isn't it?

Shannon W said...

I love love love the Free-Range kids blog! I wish they had a forum section, though. Her book is good too. www.playborhood.com is also interesting but the guy who write it is a little unusual and idealistic.

It is so tricky to figure out what to allow for each kid. Also tricky to try and allow some independence for Sophie while providing appropriate monitoring for her 3-year old brother. Most weekends we try and make opportunities for her to play with neighborhood kids but it is not so easy esp. since the elementary kids on our street go to ~5 different schools.

I kind of like that the afterschool program at St. B's is unstructured (even if I do think it is undersupervised at times), as it matches some of the philosophies of free-range and not scheduling every minute. When I picked Sophie up yesterday, she and some other girls where making a dirt house for a roly-poly and a worm they had found.- that made me smile.

Sue said...

I share those same wonderful memories of playing outside as a kid.
Have you read "Last Child in the Woods" (Louv)? It covers everything you've said so beautifully in your post today.
It's hard not to hover, not to have worries. I do think TV can stir you up. I just keep trying to let my kids wander a little farther.
When we go to the farm, my kids are outside all day, building something, bugging the chickens, riding the horse in the ring with their ski helmets (!) on. Sara loves it so much she wants to move there or at least go there every weekend.

Sherri said...

Shannon - I love that after school program - my oldest did it. You know how I "ranted" about the kids running all over the place at the park... well, I told one of the concerned mothers there about Mrs. K and her program - she's done it for YEARS - raised two FABULOUS, responsible, smart, etc. kids herself - worked with 5 and 6 year olds for years, and... when she says "don't push" - " get off the fence" - "older kids, watch out for those younger kids" - it is DONE - while, at the same time, the kids play and play on their own - get their homework done, etc. Did wonders for Olivia; I've started sending Enzo to make him a little more self-sufficient.

And, yes, TKW, it is a worry about them getting hurt ( I have two wild ones). I agree - hard to pull back.

And, Sue (I almost emailed you this am about a related dilemma - when I get one of those elusive "free moments", I will do so :-) - THANK YOU for the book reference (you too, Shannon - or link, rather). And... what happens, exactly,. when the kids "bug the chickens" ;-)?

Sue said...

Kids chase chickens through the hay bales but make peace feeding them. It is an olympic sport for for both parties. If the birds get too annoyed, they fly up to their roost (suspended canoe in the barn) and the kids get to redirect themselves. Good Times.

Mendy said...

I read that Nike article yesterday and it made my stomach turn. And I would second the "Last Child in the Woods" recommendation. It's a great book. I think more than free range roaming, I would like my kids to figure things out on their own without constant adult input. I find that's very difficult because so many parents want to navigate everything their kids do. I know I struggle with that and I'd like to let go of it. My kids are far too dependent on me.

Sherri said...

OK - so no one mentioned the fact that I let my girls play with Barbies ... another hot topic, I find ;-).