The sun was shining this weekend so we went out to explore the garden. I’m sure we’re all relieved to feel the return of warmer days and brighter skies after what felt like a dreary long winter; not even a dusting of snow in London to set the season.
Baby B was out in the garden with us a lot last summer but he was so young all he did was lie on his play-mat or his rug and stare up at the sky and the tree branches. I’m sure he won’t remember any of it, not having been out there since the end of September. So as far as he’s concerned the garden is a new experience.
Being cooped up indoors with a restless, energetic toddler can be wearing and we don’t have a park or playground nearby. So the first months of this year have been a battle to keep him entertained, especially once he started cruising and then walking.
I really do believe that being outdoors and around nature is really important for children of all ages. And adults. I’m sure you know that tension that can come from being indoors at work or doing house chores, the itch to rush out and take a deep breath of air (even if today there was a worrying pollution warning!)
There is a forest of research into the physical and mental health benefits for children from being around nature and you don’t have to live in the countryside. London is a particularly green city, which many people might not realise.
However, I didn’t feel like travelling anywhere today and we’re lucky to have a good-sized garden Baby B can grow up with. It was one of the main reasons we bought the house, having lived in flats with no garden (very depressing in summer) or one shared with the neighbours.
When we first went outside he stood and stared for a while, especially at the trees. Recently he has started pointing at everything and loves pointing at trees in the street when we are out with his buggy. The sky was really blue and must seem so vast and bewildering to a small person.
We sat on a rug and I tried to get him to wear his hat but every time it went on he pulled it straight off!
So we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible.
Simply being in the garden seemed to have a calming effect on Baby B. He sat for a good while playing with his bus, which is now looking quite battered since we bought it at Christmas.
One of cats Rafferty came to see us. He is getting a lot more tolerant of Baby B now, but still stays just out of reach.
My parents had a big garden, much bigger than ours, bigger than the footprint of their bungalow in fact, and I have many happy memories playing there. There was enough room for them to let me have a big patch to myself where I planted flowers and veg and discovered the delight of watching things grow.
There was another area at the back of the garden that my dad never got round to doing anything with and here I dug and built a quarry, a mountain of earth, a battlefield, and a rally car racetrack over the years, generally enjoying getting thoroughly dirty on my own or with my friends. I don’t think anyone’s parents were very happy about it!
I also remember being fascinated by ‘creepy-crawlies’ and catching them in jam jars (I always let them go), or lying half hidden in my tent and tempting birds to come close enough I could almost touch them.
When my dad built a pond I was straight up to the lake by our school with a net and a jar to bring back frogspawn; the descendants of those tadpoles live on today in the same garden in Northumberland.
So all in all I am very keen and hopeful that we can cultivate the same love of nature in Baby B.
After he’d finished chasing the cat we had a toddle around and looked at some unusual flowers on a shrub.
The bees were buzzing busily around us, no one else was out in their gardens, it was thoroughly peaceful and I think my favourite day of the year so far. I am very lucky to be able to spend Fridays with my little boy and I am looking forward to many more days like this and getting out and about as the summer comes into full bloom. For now the street outside our house is filled with blossom and all is well in our little corner of the world.
I can’t wait for the day Baby B understands what a tree, a bird, a bee are and can say the words. He might not give a hoot about nature of course, but I think the signs are there in the way he ponders the local menagerie. I also look forward to kicking a ball and running around squirting each other with water, and building new racetracks for his cars, if Mrs B will let us.
Eventually the sun sauntered over the chimney pots and it was time to go inside for lunch, stopping to inspect some daffodils on the way.
Baby B was very chatty when we read his bedtime story. “Madaa diddi beebee daaa” he shouted. He might have been asking for his milky but I like to think he was telling me all about the birdys, the funny flowers and his favourite friends, the trees.
Bye for now. 🙂 x
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Categories: Being Dad