For someone who has been known as a “houseplant” throughout her life, I sure have a lot of memories of the outdoors from my childhood: playing under the azalea bushes with my sister, raking leaves until I had blisters on my hand (okay, not such a great memory), exploring the woods behind my friend’s house down the street, riding my bike around Whitehall, sitting up in the cob-webby tree house in the backyard, swimming for hours on end in Lake Murray.
Somewhere around age 12, though, I think I stopped going outside!
As an adult, I have wanted to spend more time outdoors, but I have found myself asking, “What will I DO out there?” Beyond sitting on the patio, reading a magazine, and drinking a glass of wine, I’ve been kind of lacking in ideas.
And now I have my daughter Katy and, at 18 months of age, she adores being outside. She walks up to me at least twice a day, saying, “Shoes.” If she is holding her shoes, this translates to, “Please put these on and take me outside!” If she is not holding her shoes, this translates to, “Please find my shoes, put them on me, and take me outside!” Though I confess that one afternoon I actually put on a Baby Einstein video instead, generally I have acted upon her request.
At first, I figured she would just occupy herself out there. After all, it’s a “whole new world”, right?, and she should be amazed by each blade of grass. But it turns out, there is a little parent involvement required in the whole deal. So we collect leaves and examine rocks and toss balls and blow bubbles and flap our wings and discuss tree bark and drive toys trucks on the patio. When Daddy is home it’s even more fun, because she can watch him clean patio furniture, hose pollen off the siding, and shovel dirt from the sidewalk. Little sister Bayla already enjoys feeling the evening breeze from her bouncy seat and drinking a bottle as Mommy sits in a deck chair by the bird feeder.
Who knew we would ever be such an “outdoor family”? Who knew that our yard, without that magazine and glass of wine, would be so much fun? My kids may still choose to be “houseplants”, but at least I will know that it didn’t happen because I never gave them opportunities to be outside.