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Mothering › Child Articles › WHAT KIDS TEACH US by Oryna Schiffman DISCLAIMER: Author accepts no liability for any readers seeking practical, sensible advice about child rearing.

WHAT KIDS TEACH US by Oryna Schiffman DISCLAIMER: Author accepts no liability for any readers seeking practical, sensible advice about child rearing.


FOREST NYMPH BLUES


I lug the basket of succulent snacks and the old wrought iron kettle into my minivan, and drive to school, humming. When the bell rings I run, hug-ready, across the playground, imagining how we’ll caress the fresh moss under the awakening pines. A backpack lands on my toes with a thud.


“Mama! Can I have a play date with Evan?!”


“You can have a play date with Evan tomorrow. Today is the first day of spring, remember?!” I whine, even before he can begin.


Every year since my kids could walk I’ve taken them to the forest on the first day of spring to gather moss, acorns, twigs, snails and anything else that’s worthy of the forest nymph’s elixir. We stir it up in a big old kettle, and leave it on a branch weave table under a tree for her. If it’s gone by morning we know that spring is here to stay. Without this very ritual, on this very day the nymph may just remain in her lair and forget to wake the forest from its languorous slumber. (READ: those rare occasions when we abandon the scheduled, sports and screens-driven mundane for the organic, spontaneous sacred are precious to me.)


By the time we pick up my oldest, he’s got a baseball game planned. And soon he’s whining along. Two against one. The kettle slams against the passenger door as I screechingly turn the corner in the direction of the baseball field. It’s over, I decide. Our quiet rituals have lost their appeal. The crunching of the leaves underfoot will forever be blasted out by the calling of outs, and safes, and scores and cheers. We’ve failed to instill in our children the stillness required to absorb the magic of the seasons. Then suddenly, from the back seat: “Mama, why do you plan important family events when Daddy’s not in town?”


I stop, though there is no stop sign before me. Important family events. Really? I sit there, reminded by my firstborn that it’s not the “First Day of Spring” as etched on the calendar which forges new beginnings. My rigidly defined rituals had become so coveted that they turned on me, like a potential lover scared off by stalking. There is no intrinsic value to these rituals. They are only valuable when they’re instrumental in bringing us together, in allowing slow, meditative time to unravel organically.


I smile and hand out the snacks.


“You’re right. We should really wait for Daddy.”



About Oryna Schiffman

 



Comments (5)

We love to go geocaching, especially when it's on a beautiful trail in the woods! My husband has a biology degree so there is always a lesson or two while we walk along.
So true...we have to let go and let be. Organic is best.
Aww, that is a beautiful family ritual. I hope we find something similar soon! We do, at least go in the forest and in the mountains where we live together (Norway). I’ve seen old family videos including my husband’s family in the mountains, all of his aunts and uncles and cousins together for a trip and picnic. This has been normal in their family for generations. I hope, even though my kids don’t have cousins yet, that the rest will start joining us for a little hike once every summer. Ever since my son was starting walking at one year, we took him on a path in the forest. There is a wooded area in his nursery school (next to my house!), which they spend a lot of time in. They also take walks in the forest, and have even been--I’m not kidding--mushroom hunting together, which is indeed a very valuable thing to teach kids who live around the woods. (And are taught to only touch certain ones when an adult is present). This was when my son was just 3 years old. My son has been berry gathering with us, and I hope we can build a better family tradition around this. Although, it’s got to be said, moss and twigs have their merits!
Great story. I can completely relate. I see myself in this story - my vision of what should be, could be, used to be. And then when I emerge from my vision haze I realize that my pushing for the vision has actually stifled what is in the moment. And sometimes what's in the moment is better or at least as good as the vision. Sometimes not - but that's life.
Love to hear that you can relate! Thanks for taking the time to respond. Cheers, Oryna
Mothering › Child Articles › WHAT KIDS TEACH US by Oryna Schiffman DISCLAIMER: Author accepts no liability for any readers seeking practical, sensible advice about child rearing.