Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Playing with Dirt

JED are coughing. Badly. And to be honest, it was my fault.

2 weeks ago, I sent them out of the house because I wanted to take a nap. It started to rain when they went down to play. And instead of coming up, they went on playing in the rain. First with boxes that they tried to shelter themselves with and when the boxes got soggy, all the pretence of caring went out the window.

Of course, I got into a lot of trouble with the maters for having got them sick. But they all came home wet, freezing with a sparkle in their eye.

I like them doing that. Not the getting sick but the other thing. I think they don't get to do it enough. My childhood memories were about walking in huge drains in my apartment complex and ending up somewhere totally obscure and having to find my own way home. I harbour memories of great resentment because my brothers used to go out in the middle of the night to walk in the cemetery with torch lights- without me. I felt I was missing out. Their excuse, our mother would have killed them if they brought me.

It's easy not to do that. The grand maters are full of fearful tales of abduction, outrage of modesty and that the world is full of bad people. They aren't allowed to take the lift up themselves and they aren't allowed to be downstairs on their own. Part of me is fearful, conditioned by them. Packrat does a great job insisting that I chill and let them be. It's not easy. It's easy to err on the side of bubble wrapping JED.

In our world, it's easy to stop them from going near anything dirty, smother them with sanitiser and regale them with cautionary tales of danger and accidents.

But even I know that it's hypocritical for me to behave that way. One day, on the way home with Evan, I stopped short and stared at, what was to him, a bush. He tugged me along but I wouldn't budge, staring at some leaves. Then I pointed out to him two leaves, stuck together and told him a spider lived inside. He didn't believe me till I gently pulled the leaves apart and there, cowering inside, was a very pretty black spider with silver stripes. He asked me how I knew that there was a spider there and when I explained to him that spiders made homes in leaves and I hunted them when I was young, he was suitably impressed and wanted to know how to do it.

The twins go out of the house on their own quite a bit and they know they have to look after Muffin if he goes along. They're usually somewhere down the corridor and downstairs playing. They know not to go anywhere near the road and they have made friends with other children in the block. They come home with treasures of swords, light sabres, spears (long sticks) and cannon balls (coconuts, don't ask.). They come back dirty, sweaty and grubby.

My plan for this holidays will be fewer paid workshops and camps and more 'free range' fun. After all, I have read too much about how the cleaner our kids are, the lower their immunity is to allergies
(I draw my line to not bathing every day though), how kids in the woods (wild) are going to be extinct soon and the need to disconnect to ignore all of it.

Some places that kids have been set free and where I've had to stop myself from actively cringing and stopping them from playing how they want to play.

1. The Green Corridor. Lots to explore. Wild chickens, squirrels, forget me nots and thick vegetation. Sticks, whacking the bushes and raising an army of insects. Only thing that is necessary, industrial strength insect repellant for the commando mosquitoes that attack in packs.

2. Botanic Gardens. 
JED know Botanics like the back of their hand. But they always find new things to do there. I'm just the driver. Recently, they spent a good hour at a spot they love, first picking out leaves and sticks from the water and stirring up the mulch from the bottom of the pond then sticking their hands into the water to try to lure fish into their hands with fish food. Evan's thrill of the day was when a fish swam into his hand and he badly wanted to close his hand around it but was worried he'd crush it. I wanted to stop them, every one of them. Dirty water. Hands in mouth. Salmonella. 

3. At home and at grandma's.

We just leave them be. Especially at Grandma's where there are flower beds, soil, drains and lots of pails set out to collect rain water. Sometimes, there's the sloshing of water, sometimes there's the sound of a shovel or their bare hands digging up the ground and sometimes there's just a lot of clomping around. Occasionally, they end up doing chores (without our asking) where they sweep up leaves in the driveway or wash the driveway or windows with collected rain water. They come in grubby and they come in wet.

I don't make many comments about it except to tell them to change out of their wet clothes, wash their feet and hands.

That's the one thing I can't quite bring myself not to do yet; to ignore the fact that they have dirty, gross hands. 


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