I recently went through some photographs I had from a trip we recently took to Morton Arboretum and noticed a trend: my son running far ahead of us. Seems simple enough but it reminded me of something I read in Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. I got the book years ago when my son was becoming comfortable with his ability to move independently. It seemed like we where constantly butting heads, I found myself saying no more than ever before. I still wanted to snuggle and read; he just wanted to jump off things and run around.
I went out in search of answers and found Wild Things, read the chapter on his age group and immediately took him to a wide open space. It was like magic, he mood instantly changed. He just ran around climbing, jumping, and exploring. He did not ask me to participate, he was in his zone.
Fastforward to today and the same rules still apply. Playgrounds are fantastic must nothing beats the elevated mood and tranquility of a child who has just explored in nature.
Now that he is a little older nature exploration has some ground rules. Respectful exploration is the mantra but as a person who is not particularly interested in bugs I have to make sure I do not discourage him from interacting with bugs that are safe to handle. The Nature Connection is a great resource I found with advice on how to help your child respectfully enjoy nature. It is my go-to for becoming comfortable with leading nature adventures; Tinkerlab also has a great review of the book.
Morton Arboretum is easily my favorite place to escape the noise of the city and watching my son explore it only made it better. Interactions with nature an so important for my balance and understanding. As an black woman that loves the outdoors but is not always comfortable venturing out alone, I often find myself going to Outdoor Afro, to read blog posts and learn about events. There is also a Chicago Chapter that is very active, if you live in the area.