Okay, this post is about 4 weeks late. But better late than never, right?
In early September Anja and I went camping with two other moms and their kids. We called it the 3 moms, 5 kids camping trip. And it was spectacular. Truly one of our best camping trips ever. Sharing the meals, sharing the kid coverage, and an ideal gang of kids in which to explore and play. Ages 3-7. And all sweet, considerate and intelligent kids.
Additionally, we lucked out with a natural sliding board IN our campsite. An ancient tipped redwood stump, smoothed by years of kid butts sliding down it, was the perfect play thing for the kids. They ran, biked, climbed, and on rare occasions sat down to draw or play with toy figures.
My biggest lesson of the weekend was a practice of free ranging the kids. We were at Memorial Park Campground, in San Mateo, only an hour from home. We were deep in the redwoods and felt miles away from it all, including being off the grid (iphone wise). It was the weekend after Labor Day, and although there were people around, it was a relatively quite campground (save for our posse of kids whooping it up).
Our kids would bike the loop of the campground together. Circling around our “block.” A few of the younger kids were on balance bikes, the older kids were on bicycles. And at first, they went as a group. But as the weekend wore on, there were times when some wanted to go and others didn’t. At one point Anja wanted to go by herself. (Brace yourself fellow parents and please reserve any judgement.) I paused for a moment, asked her what she would do if she saw a car on the “road” and after receiving the exact answer I was looking for, said yes. I allowed my 3.5 year old to go do the loop by herself. <gulp> I felt my heart strings tug as I watched her excitedly and confidently roll away from our campsite.
She returned full of pride and thrilled at the rush of independence and asked to do it again. After her second loop she came back, dropped her balance bike and joined the other kids in whatever game they were current up to. And something big had changed. For me and for Anja. I’m still a little rocked, in a very positive way, by this experience.
And now, a few of my favorites from the weekend:
Julian (6) & Annapurna(5) on top, and Anja(3), Adrian(3) & Kenyon(7) stuffed into the top shelf of the raccoon pantry (amazingly).
Stunning blue eyes, every single one of them.
The gang, on our last day. A little dirty…
and a lot silly.