So just in this week alone Lizzie and I have:
- picked up our local farm share from Green Meadows, and while there we said hello to the pigs, chickens and her favorite, the turkeys.
- eaten homemade organic food as a family (all of us, she rarely eats store-bought jar food and we rarely eat take-out).
- left the car at home many times and walked to the post office, bank, library, and local coffee shop.
- picked produce from our organic garden, ok, I picked produce and Lizzie tried to eat the grass.
- but most importantly: we went outside.
It's this last one that I feel will leave the biggest impression on her. Before she was born my husband and I already spent most of our free time outside. I hope Lizzie will grow up to be the same. There are alarming data showing kids these days are actually vitamin D deficient because they spend too much time inside watching TV. How are they going to learn to appreciate nature if they only see it on television? Show them a real frog, butterfly, turtle, piping plover or beaver and watch their faces light up.
Every morning Lizzie and I walk the 100 feet to the end of the street and look for birds and frogs along the river. Then every afternoon we walk to the park and play on the swings and look for grasshoppers. If I'm lucky and there's enough time between morning nap and lunch we go for a real adventure. This morning we went to Crane's Beach, a short drive to the other side of town and one of the most beautiful stretches of sand for miles.
We picked up lots of soft shelled clams and I explained how the holes in their shells were made by the drilling, toothed tongue (radula) of the moon snail. They drill the hole, injected the clam with hydrochloric acid, and then suck the dissolved meat out through the hole. COOL HUH?! I know she probably didn't understand a word of what I said but someday she will.
And then we found a real live moon snail buried in the sand waiting for the incoming tide, its foot all tucked up into its shell as far as it will go. We touched the slimy foot and had a few giggles at the texture.Then we found a nice wet puddle left behind by the tide and put the moon snail back, only to find another one already sitting in the puddle! So we waved them around a bit, got all wet and sandy, and then let them be.
So go ahead and send your kids outside and let them get dirty. And don't be too quick to pull out the Purell every time they touch something. I neither own hand sanitizer nor allow it to be used on my child. Let her eat dirt, it's good for her immune system and will lower the chances of her having allergies. And the more they play in the dirt the less they will fear nature and the outdoors. If you freak out every time they get mud on their faces they will learn to be afraid as well. Touch shells and acorns and frogs and slugs and bark and even slimy moon snails. Your kids will grow up to love and appreciate them and they will become stewards of our beautiful world.
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