Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lookin' for dirt

You never know when you're going to find a good pile of dirt. One typically does not go in search of a pile of dirt. It just happens to be in the right place at the right time. I am reminded every week about the attributes of a decent dirt pile. Adults walk past many interesting things every day. We are too busy in our grown-up thoughts to be bothered by those treasures.

Having small children means you have to take notice of those highly interesting places. Sometimes we see those spots well before the little ones can take part in its splendor. Many times we are made aware only after our sweet darlings have just stuffed mulch down their pants and are shaking the remnants of fistfuls of dirt from their hair. Clearly making a mess is the most fun part of childhood. Taking part of the world in your hands investigating its features. Oh the fun. Oh the mess.

Way back 12 years ago when I started this parenting gig I came to realize an amazing lesson. It's the lesson of self induced stress as a result of your child's actions. I used to worry about the messes my eldest would make while playing outside. I worried about having to clean her up, wash her clothes, how to get stains out of those clothes, that she might eat some dirt or mulch or whatever...the list of worries went on for pages. One day I realized that my ridiculous worries were a foolish hindrance to her learning about the world around her. I was preventing her from enjoying play. I decided that wearing comfortable clothes that could get messy was how she would be dressed. I stopped buying from those expensive children's clothing stores and opted for thrift store selections or anything I could get super discounted. Then I let go of those stupid worries pushing them out of my mind. Embracing the impromptu dirt filled fun at the park began to evolve into many memories of joy. I watched my girl grow confident with the natural world around her. She found simplistic entertainment with sticks, dirt, acorns, leaves, rocks and anything else she could find. When little girl number two came along she too was given the encouragement to explore have fun and get dirty. Oh the judgmental looks we got with our messy girls running around the parks.

Fast forward to now with my third little girl who has known being on the go from one big sister activity to the next. Keeping her busy has been a constant need. As usual the littlest girl is fond of being outside which makes for easy entertaining. Since her growth from baby to toddler she has become increasingly fascinated with things she finds outside. Just as I expected she too shares her sisters' fondness of dirt. And rocks. And sticks. Those all are easy to find and provide countless minutes of activity. This time though I am fully embracing those dirty hands and dusty clothes. We let her explore the soccer fields finding tidbits of fun to play with finding new ways to use them. She carries rocks and sticks around piling them up and kicking them into new piles. I am constantly impressed with how entertaining simple things can be for children. I'm also impressed with how much dirt a kid can retain in their hair.

The soccer season is almost over and our little dirt piles at those fields will be bid farewell until the Fall. We'll turn our attention to those other spaces to enjoy dirt. Our garden will be a great place for the girls to get seek out some daily fun. I know I too want to get my hands dirty working the garden. There will be worms to find, weeds to pull, seeds to plant, and rocks to put in buckets. Maybe we'll mix it up a little and add some water to change that dirt into some excellent mud. Oh dirt we love you. 

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