The Gift of An Unhurried Childhood – Nature Club Saturdays

Allergy season has come upon us and two of my four daughters suffer so badly that they can hardly open their eyes in the mornings.  I decided to leave my own girls home for this reason today and headed off to meet my nature club children on my own.

It was strange going off to work without my girls.  When I thought more about this, I realized that is what most people do.  But for years and years my work has always centered around my daughters.  My daycare, the camps I run and now nature club…. all of these have all stemmed from my desire to teach my own daughters.  Its a huge bonus that I have so many other children in my life from our community and I love every moment of the work I do with them as well.  But, the initial drive to do the work that I am now doing came from the mother within me and it has led us down a beautiful path together.  

Years ago (it feels like centuries ago), I was an advertising executive.  I worked long hours and needed childcare full-time.  I loved working so much but hated leaving my children… I always felt a pull in either direction.  When I was at home, I was thinking of what I needed to do at work.  When I was at work, I wanted so badly to be at home.

These days, I sometimes envy my husband for being able to jump out of bed, get dressed and go off on his own to do his work in this world, it is also upsetting because what I do often feels so unnoticed and unappreciated…  but I know that in my heart I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve been able to spend with my girls by working at home for anything.  It hasn’t always been easy to figure out but they really are only young once.  I know this firsthand now that my oldest has left for college.

Today was beautiful.  Spring has finally arrived.  With each new group that I have, the children’s enthusiasm never fades.  Not once did they miss their video games or favorite Saturday morning cartoons during our time together.  They would have spent the entire day in the woods with me if they could have.  What I’ve found is that I really do not have to plan much.  The children lead me.  I plan a simple craft or lesson but I do not rush through our time together to fulfill an agenda.  Today I caught myself saying to them “take your time, we are in no rush at all today.”.  It made me smile.  What a difference from the hustle and bustle of our weekday mornings getting ready for work and school.  I want to give this gift to them: The gift of an unhurried childhood.  Time to really let things sink in and for the children not to feel like they have to move quickly before they miss the next thing on the to-do list.

When Brian’s grandma died, I received a bunch of her old art supplies and books.  She, like me, had a deep love for art and nature and I now have a handful of some wonderful vintage nature books from her collection.  
This one is called ‘Woodland Flowers’ and the illustrations are all hand drawn.  The children loved flipping through the pages each time we came across wildflowers to try to identify which type they were.  
We did some simple weaving of God’s Eyes for our craft today and the kids really caught on quick.  What I loved so much was how the boys were asking to use the color pink and the girls asking for blue.  There was not a second thought about pink being a girl’s color and vice versa.  They just love color and wanted to create a beautiful design.  

I have noticed that even when I have children who have special needs in my program, their behavior is so much better when they are outside all day.  I’ve had children who need a full-time aide with them in their classes embrace my programs alone with success.  It is not always easy for me as their guide but when I come to it with love and acceptance, I always find the sweetness in them and I work hard to reach them and make a positive connection.  I try to remember those teachers who were able to reach me when I was so lost as a teen and I can only hope that it makes a difference.

Today was one of the few days that I spent my entire day outside from morning until dusk.  I feel good.  My cheeks are red and my hands and feet are dirty.  After nature club this morning I worked outside in the garden all day and I’m getting really excited about what to plant next.  I feel tired and full and thankful for how lucky I am to live this beautiful life.  I hope you were able to see the gifts through your chaos today too.

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