Every child that I saw approach that gate (yes, that’s a gate) was at a dead run. Even the mini-ions, who had no idea what was on the other side, approached that gate at a dead run, because what else could be on the other side besides awesome fun.
As I’ve been talking about the vision I have for the play area we’re building in my town, one of my friends was telling me about this nature playground. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, a nature playground, but when you consider it a little further, it makes a lot of sense.
If I think back to my childhood, yes, we had a swingset with monkey bars to play across, but the place that I played the most was the woods behind my house. That was my playground. With unsteady tree limbs to walk across, sticks to use for any purpose. We explored caterpillars and how they cocooned, flowing water and falling across stones, and just plain dirt.
These days when I take my mini-ions to playgrounds, it is in a pristine setting, covered beautifully with mulch on equipment with rules to eliminate risks. I get it. Taking my mini-ions home clean has a lot of benefits. I generally let my mini-ions ignore the rules to allow them to take risks, but I can understand why the rules (no climbing up slides, this equipment is for 5 and older) are set and why some parents would rather stay in those rules.
The rules? Yes, climb that rock wall. Yes, play in that dirt pile. Yes, play in the stream. As far as I could see, the rules were Yes! Try it! Push yourself! See what you can do and what new ways you can play!
That night after serious baths, I asked Mini-ion #2 what her favorite part of the day was. She said playing dirt. This girl found new ways of getting herself dirty. And don’t worry, she figured out how to climb out of that hole all by herself, before any of the bigger ones with her were able to.
Thank you, C, for making us go there!