I remember, like most kids before the age of computers, video games, and iPhones, that most of my childhood was spent outside. There was a creek bed behind my house that we loved to play in. My sister and I would pretend that we were lost, or kidnapped. We would hunt for crawdads, and spend hours playing. Those are happy memories. The ones where we were outside.
Yesterday, I sent my kids outside at 11 am. The problem is, at 11 am, the sun is burning a hole in our backyard, heating up the bricks on the east side of the house to 120 degrees, and the shade of our beautiful tree doesn’t do a dang thing until much later in the afternoon.
But, I was feeling claustrophobic with three little people around as I tried to accomplish a task of packing a box. So, I declared, “Outside!” Some exclaimed, “YEAH!!” while others lamented. I’ll let you guess which ones. But, even the baby was sent outside to play in the sandbox.
5 minutes later I hear footsteps on the back porch. It’s the lamenter. He says, “I’m hooooot” in the whiniest voice possible. The baby follows suit. “Uh uh uh.” he says. I’m sure that means, “Me too, Mama”. I insist they go back out. There was stomping of feet, and protests. Then I remember how miserable I get when I am hot, (how I ever lived in Texas for the first 20 years of my life is beyond me) and I know it is like walking on the sun out there at 11 am. So, I think to myself, screw it. Let’s go to the park.
I had a headache yesterday, remember? So, I wasn’t up for driving a few extra blocks to the park I knew was shady. I decided a different one closer would work better. We get there, and I realize it’s just as stupid hot as my backyard. Whatever. Let’s do this, I think. They’ll get their energy out. We all navigate to the tiny sandy area that is shady ignoring all the fire hot playground equipment that will get our energy out. The kids begin digging in the sand. “Have fun!” I declare as I precariously sit down on a bench covered in bird poop and berries from a very large tree overhead. But, it was shady.
A moment of peace, I thought.
Kyle is throwing fits because Chandler is stepping on HIS sand pile (that could not be distinguished from any other sand pile), and Avery wants to take shoes off and lay down like we are at a beach in the Bahamas. I settle fights and tell Kyle to move to a different spot. Then, he says, “Something just hit my back.” “Don’t worry, I’m sure it was just a berry” I say. Then, he turns around a few minutes later, and I realize a bird had pooped on him. Lovely.
The problem is, I made the mistake of telling him this. Will I never learn? Then, my sweet little boy who is so extra sensitive decided he could no longer function with bird poop on his back. I mean, I get it. But, still. I offer to take the shirt off. And, nothing makes him happy. Instead, he stands perfectly still for about 10 minutes not moving with an upset look on his face.
Let’s go home! I declare after one failed attempt at going down the fiery hot slide.
Seriously. How did I ever live in 99 degree temps with 99% humidity? And do things like band practice on hot asphalt for hours? In August. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.
But, like many of you pointed out, tomorrow is always another day. And, today is tomorrow. Or something like that.
I woke up still tired. I’m killing myself these days moving. But, the breeze was blowing and the high today was only going to be 83. Off to the the mountains we go. And, it was perfection. Minus the bad iPod photos.
I don’t usually do this kind of stuff without my husband, but I realized I should more often. There is something about dirt, and rocks, and water, and trees, and mountains that calms the soul.
And makes kids happy. There was no whining. No fighting. No arguing. Because there was a plethora of rocks, sticks, and water for everyone. We go to the canyon closest to our house, and we all hop out. Immediately, Chandler was yelling “WOAH!” at the river every time he saw it. The kids were racing down the trail with energy, and Chandler couldn’t help but pick up a rock every five steps and throw it. I was able to watch them soak up the mountain breeze, and have fun. And, get some REAL energy out.
I told the kids that growing up, I didn’t have mountains like this to play in. So, they are very very lucky. I think they get it. I’ve lived here 8 years now, and I still look at those beautiful mountains with awe. Being outside today was so different than yesterday. Everything was exciting. Everything was new. And, EVERYTHING made them happy. “Woah Mommy, look at that stick. Woah, Mommy look at that tree. It’s a tunnel!”
Maybe it was the mountain air. Maybe it was the fact that it was at least 15 degrees cooler than yesterday, but the extra work of packing lunches and three kids in the car and driving up the canyon by myself was way less work because they were so happy.
Being outside is what childhood is about if you ask me. It really can calm the aching heart, or sooth the troubled soul. Or at the very least make my children chill out for a few minutes. And, that’s good enough for me.