My car needed an oil change, so Livia and I spent an hour sitting inside the dealership yesterday morning. The dealership has a play room with a basket of toy cars, and Livia doesn’t mind when we occasionally have to stop there. She is happy to play with all the little vehicles.
When the oil changed was completed, we stepped outside and discovered that it was a very pleasant 26 degrees. The sun was shining, which felt even better. I knew the coming days were forecasted to feel much colder. We couldn’t waste the rest of the morning by staying inside.
We decided to try to meet up with Linden Hills Nature School. I drove to their location for that day. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that the group was climbing on a snow mountain at the edge of the lot.
I parked the car, and one by one, the kids came running over to me. I was greeted with hugs, and several requests to get Livia out of the car. I helped her bundle up, and grabbed her sled. The nature school gang led us to the sledding hill.
The first thing the teacher did when we reached the hill was spread a tarp on the ground. Everyone sat down and warmed up with some tea. The children observed how the thermos was steaming when the top was removed. Some kids experimented with pouring the warm tea on the cold snow. They discovered that the hot tea made the snow melt.
There were some tears while everyone was gathered on the tarp. Some of the kids are still figuring out that in order to keep their hands warm in winter, they need to keep their mittens on. The teacher helped the children work through their feelings. She allowed them to express their emotions, but she also let them know that she was there for them when they were ready for help.
It was good for me to see that hardy nature school kids sometimes cry when they are outside, even on a pleasant, sunny, winter day. It doesn’t mean they don’t like being outside. It doesn’t mean that being outside in the winter is too much. It just means that young kids are still learning how to handle their frustrations, and adapt to the changing season.
The tears didn’t last for long. Soon, everyone was ready to slide down the hill. At the top, the teacher helped them form a train with the sleds, and away they went.
The teacher whooped and cheered along with the kids as they slide down together. Joy was all around.
It was hard work getting back up the hill. Some kids had taken their mittens off, and were once again reminded that snow is cold. But, they managed to make it up, over and over again.
Even Livia, at 2 years old, was able to climb up by herself. The thrill of flying on the sled was a good motivator to do something hard.
Livia’s hat fell off during one of her runs down the hill. This upset her, and she began to cry. Upon seeing her tears, one little boy offered her some help. I was touched by this gesture. Having compassion for others is important throughout life. Kindness is something that can not be taught from worksheets.
Every time I spend a morning with Linden Hills Nature School, I feel a renewed sense of hope. This is a school that understand a child’s need to move, and right to play, and is doing all that it can to protect both. This school respects children as unique individuals, and doesn’t force them to fit into any mold. Kids are allowed to be kids at this school. Childhood is celebrated here, and not rushed along.
Eventually it was time for the nature school kids to eat lunch. I hadn’t packed lunch for Livia, so we needed to go home to eat. I was sad to see such a lovely morning end, but I felt lighter after witnessing all the connected, playful moments that had occurred.