So in some respects, I think what you see could be in some sense innate, but it has been nurtured by you as well, even if that is NOT to interfere with the child's natural instincts. Think about how so many parent react...."NO! Don't touch that! Don't eat that! Don't put that in your mouth! Don't get your clothes dirty! Look at your hands! Filthy!. And then we get to see your feral boy covered gloriously head to toe in mud and I can see my own childhood, riding half naked (before anyone could tell I was a girl) on my pony an no one telling me to go put on my clothes. It the reason I am trying to think back...to remember...because I was allowed to run quite wild myself and I was good with animals...maybe because I WAS one!
You know...dirt is GOOD for you! People are too afraid of germs these days. They make you strong in the right doses. Eating a little dirt is good for you. Getting a little horse poop under your fingernails and then eating a cookie before you wash up, is good for you! Squishing it between your toes is kind of cool too
I just adore how naturally you raise your boys. I think you allow their instincts to flourish and obviously, they learn from you, but also teach themselves through personal experience. I think your family must have a beautiful balance between nature and nurture.
Oh, beautiful, Karen!
The most vivid memories of my childhood are of times spent in the woods -- we had about 20 acres of field, stream, woodlands that we went to pretty much every weekend (officially named Narnia, as we were Lewis addicts)...hours and hours and hours spent...
...playing in the stream, catching crayfish, building dams and swimming holes and peering at caddis larva, discovering that the antidote to stinging nettle was jewelweed, discovering the green firecrackers of jewelweed as they sprung between our fingers, building a sod house, a tree fort, an Iroquois birch pole lodge, playing bamboo flutes to flying squirrels, discovering what lived underneath that rotting piece of bark, or who left that scat or footprint, naming wildflowers, trees, rocks, hunting for fossils, or simply spinning, my sisters and I, lazily in our canvas hammock, watching how the patterns of leaves changed above us...and on and on...
The world is alive with imagination.
We didn't have the host of critters that you do in your world, Jess (would have loved that!
) but we had enormous support from my folks to do all of this, but very little interference. We were trusted to navigate our magical land in ways that made sense to us, and we did with no disasters for many years. (Though we did learn some important lessons about electricity, water, and conduction as we experimented touching an electric fence bounding the property while standing in the stream...)
We had the occasional scrape or scratch or bonk from our adventures, but we learned to navigate the landscape with it as teacher, rather than hovering adult warning us not to do or touch or worry... So, yes, rocks covered in algae ARE slippery...bees don't like to be petted...if you stand still and slow your breathing, the deer in the clearing won't take fright...
We also had the benefit of a wonderful program called Junior Museum, which offered all sorts of more structured natural and creative learning opportunities, that fueled our curiosity. And we were encouraged to draw what we saw, or write about it -- stories, poems, whatever. The natural world was a place to explore, to draw inspiration from, and to reflect on, even as really small kids.
And I know, Karen, that you are absolutely right about dirt. Studies suggest that kids who grow up with dirt and hay and dust have stronger immune systems than those who don't, are less likely to develop asthma, etc. And to this day, I can think of very few things that make me more happy than getting filthy from head to toe. There's something so gratifying about it! I think we literally get fed by getting ourselves covered in dirt...
Have any of you read Richard Louv's book, "Last Child in the Wilderness"? He's making the argument that most kids in the US today suffer from what he calls "nature deficit disorder" -- they don't get enough of it, they're too controlled when they're in it, and he thinks we're damaging our kids horribly by creating sterile worlds for them to live in...
Nice thread, Jess!
This is making me realize I need to do a lot more of this than I make time for these days!!!