Motherhood Defined

June 5, 2014

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I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.

Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.

One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.

Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.

“That’s because we are birds” he said.

“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”

“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.

For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”

I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.

After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.

“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”

“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.

“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.

“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.

“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.

“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.

“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.

“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.

He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”

And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.

 

Knee-High Naturalists

June 13, 2012

Exploring Nature with ToddlersI try to expose my son to a variety of interests, even if I don’t particularily like it. Like bugs. You see, it is my belief (as sexist as it may be) that all men should protect the women in their lives from bugs and rodents. It is their duty. So, in raising a little man, I think it is important to expose him to those things so there will be no fear. As long as I am raising a boy, chivilery will not die!

When I saw the opportunity to sign up for a toddler workshop called “Knee-High Naturalists” I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to expose my son to something I naturally wouldn’t want to do myself. The program advertised walking along the water and discovering all sorts of nature; birds, rocks, plants, and yes, bugs.

The morning of our adventure, as I was getting ready, I attempted to create excitement. In my peppiest voice (which, I must admit isn’t all that peppy and sounds rather unnatural on me) I said, “We’re going to do something really fun today! We are going to go walk along the water and find birds and plants and bugs!”

Then I remembered that my son doesn’t like bugs the way most boys do (surprise, surprise). When he sees them outside he normally says “Go home bug!” and proceeds to tell me he doesn’t “really like that bug.” So, I quickly tried rewording our morning outing and said, “Doesn’t that sound fun?! Do you want to see some birds!?”

To my surprise he responded, “And bugs!” with excitement.

“Yeah! And bugs! How fun!” I said, trying to keep the excitement going. He reached his hand out toward me and said, “I’m going to touch them!”

That surprised me. “You are?” I asked.

Then he took his hands and pretended to hold a baseball bat. He started to swing it. “And hit them with my bat!” he proudly exclaimed.

And there we have it. He wants to torture the bugs, not explore them. I think it’s a step in the right direction. At least he’s not running away from them.

Cedar River Education Center- North Bend, WA

If you live in the Seattle area, the Cedar River Education Center at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend offers the Knee-High Naturalists program once a month, throughout the summer. We ended up having a blast. We learned about weather as our guide helped point out different aspects of it on our nature walk. The program is designed for children three and under and is only $5 per adult. The Education Center has a whole slew of things to explore. It is a mini, hands-on science center. That, by itself, is worth the trip.

I’m so glad I found this, because we will be returning. Next month’s topic? Bugs. Time to put my big-girl pants on.

 
 
To register for the program you may email CRWProgram@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9421.  Rattlesnakek Lake is located off of I90, exit 32. 
 
 

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