Recently we went camping with our kids for the first time. This was quite a feat because we don’t own a car or any camping stuff and it took three cars from various generous friends in our parish to ferry our family of 8 there. Two other friends brought more of our stuff. We have such a welcoming parish!
We ordered a giant tent online (my tall husband can even stand up in it) but every thing else we borrowed. It was weeks of preparation… organizing all the supplies, looking up camping lists online and shopping for missing items, loading up on snacky food from Costco, etc. And when we returned it took a week to catch up on all the laundry and get back to normal. So why was it worth it anyway? How come we plan to do it all again next year, and look forward to it already?
- Because extended relaxed time in nature with kids is irreplaceable. It’s so much work to even get kids ready to go on a day trip to a park…you spend more time prepping and travelling than being there. Here the ratio is flipped. Unzip tent. Slip on flip flops. Run and play outside. Minimal prep and maximum play.
- Because there’s something so healthy about kids being able to run free in the fresh air, unrestricted by busy schedules or worries about cars on busy roads. My little boy ran himself ragged in the grassy area and jumped and screamed for joy in the lake. Then he flopped down like a tired puppy and napped outside on the grass or by the beach. Once he even fell asleep leaning on a rock wrapped in his towel. For a little city boy with 4 big sisters, this kind of existence was a joyful revelation.
- Because spending time around the campfire with people you love while a huge yellow moon rises over the hill and stars begin to sparkle is unforgettable.
- Because waking up to hearing the birds sing is such a grounding experience…taken out of the frenzy of city life and endless beeps and bells, one feels once again a tiny part of the vastness of creation. Awe.
- Because having adventures together as a family is a bonding experience and helps you grow in friendship with each other. People have different love languages, but as much as your kids will always begging you for new stuff, what they really want is time with you. Give them the gift of uninterrupted time with you.
We adults are so easily bored. We think we’ve seen it all and that a fantasy would be much more interesting than our real lives. How shortsighted our vision is…how little we perceive as we fuss about our busy, distracted, task driven days. How much we complain, rather than stop and give thanks, in awe of even being alive….the wonder of existing at all. There could be a million stories written in which we did it exist. A million versions of life on earth without us. And yet here we are.
Children have more sense of this. Their minds are not so constricted by supposed practicalities. Reality, seen through the eyes of a child, is the greatest mystery there is.
And in honour of the messy realness of children’s vision, the lovely freeness and honesty of it, here are some pictures of my kids, taken by my kids…in this case my 5 year old daughter, who has a fantastic imagination, and for whom the little moments in life are still an adventure.
Hope you enjoyed this peek into a little moment in her world! May your day be as bright and cheerful as this sunflower, no matter what the weather.
Here is a poem I wrote last year, before I started my blog. I stumbled upon it and thought I’d share it with you now, as the growing warmth of the sun is hopefully bringing up happy childhood memories of summer in all of us.
I remember sprawling in the grass
in my shorts and t-shirt
making a perfect imprint of myself in the ground
seven years old and utterly at home
as the afternoon sun pulsed red
through my closed eyes
Nothing but the singing of birds
and whisper of butterfly wings in my ears
nothing beyond the moment
Now I’m thirty-two years old
and nine months pregnant
leaning back in my lawn chair
as my toddler snuggles in my lap
and gives me Eskimo kisses
Our resident hummingbird sings heartily
unphased by the vroom and bang
of townhouse construction next door
The faint familiar scent of cut plywood
wafts over the fence to blend with the smell of garden manure
My five year old feeds the chickens
one scrap at a time
and gives me a play by play:
“Rosie ate a piece of lettuce off Chickeny’s back
and the brown chickens are fighting over a tomato.”
“Mmmm…so funny,” I reply sleepily.
That same afternoon sun pulses down
red on my closed eyelids
and out of my mind
too tired for thoughts
begins to float poetry