My mother-in-law is a unique lady. She and her parents came over on the boat from Italy to Canada seeking greater opportunity. Her parents didn't speak English and she was three years old. Since then, she has been super-productive as a nurse and an attorney, while also doing an exemplary job as a wife, sister, daughter and mother. She has done her duty in looking after her parents, her Type 1 diabetic spouse, her three sons and a plethora of horses and stray dogs and cats. Her boys are all smart, self-sufficient, talented and confident. They are true family men, they know right from wrong, they work hard first and then they play hard. They are the kind of men I want my boys to be. So, even though my mother-in-law starts many conversations with "You should...” I know that this is done out of love and tons of life experience.
To be honest, all that advice was a little hard to take when I was a newbie in the family, but once I realized that love and good will were the backdrop for every comment, I settled in, opened my ears and my heart and listened to her. I still do. My style of mothering is a combination of her "tough love for the greater good" and my own mother's "love no matter what". These two amazing womens' wise approaches are helping guide me to raise healthy, happy and well-adjusted kids. I am fortunate to have such great role models.
One of the best pieces of advice my mother-in-law gave me so far came in the form of a book. I was actually on bed rest waiting for the boys to be hatched and she gave me a book called "Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature-Deficiency Disorder", by Richard Louv.
When I got the book, I instantly liked the title. It spoke to the love and respect for nature that are a key part of my personality. I am a girlie girl, but my attraction to the animal world has been a constant since I was a little girl. The smell of a forest is my favorite smell (besides The Sweet Pea fragrance at Bath and Body Works!) I am in awe of the way an ecosystem works. Michael and I spent our honeymoon in the rainforest of Costa Rica. His love of nature goes even beyond mine! It seems only natural that the apple(s) shouldn't fall far from the tree(s).
So, after I read the first couple of chapters while on bed rest, I was convinced! Above all else, my kids were going to be in tune with nature. The magic that happens when you are in a forest exploring is something I wanted them to feel and discover. Now that they are six, I am not sure if their own love for nature was due to nature or nurture (pun intended!)
Even as babies, I dragged the out on the trails, beaches and rivers!
Zeke loves all of the inanimate objects that exist in nature. He is truly in his element when he is with rocks, sand, dirt or water. He becomes calm and gets lost in the uniqueness of each object. He is a visual learner, so he takes it all in while he holds each rock and squishes mud or sand between his fingers and toes.
Don't make fun of the ridiculous tank top. It was mine and all I had to hide some of the sun. Obviously a futile attempt. Give me a break, I had two, hot two-year olds on the beach all day!
Rocco is more externally sponge-like in his learning, and his preschool teacher says he learns best when in touch with nature. He loves animals, mostly the ones without fur. Strange but true. He has always been enamored with frogs and toads.
Here he is actually touching his first toad! I know, I went right to the salon after the trail to chop that hair, don't worry...
Lucky for me or lucky for them, I love nature and so do they! So it all works out.
On Sunday, I took them to a river and then we walked a trail to a swamp. Here are some pictures and videos from our day.
Isn't it truly amazing when you get a child into the woods to be one with nature? They just kind of melt intothe scenery. Have you ever noticed how your child just gets calm on a beach when he/she plays in the sand? I swear nature is the best babysitter. It stops the "Moms!" and the "I'm huuuungrys!" It stops the health problems from coming when they watch too much TV. So, I think this summer you may see a lot of blog posts from me reporting from the forest or the riverside. I was getting a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to find the time to collect any thoughts to blog about while they were both home and in my face all day. But, I think I will take them to the woods, let the trees, rocks and creatures babysit them while I sit beside them taking my own moment to write. I will have to check out the wifi signal at the swamp!
Send me your favorite story of your child being one with nature! Just press the word comments below and share away!