February 22, 2023

Working with children in the outdoors affords me numerous opportunities to observe subtleties of their behaviors. It is actually one of my favorite parts of working with children.  I recognize and appreciate their abilities to figure things out independently or come up with solutions for others.  Every once and while there is someone who really resonates with me, making my heart smile, reminding me of what it is to be an individual.  Something some children loose as they move into the socialized world of formal education. Today was one of those days when a child’s actions became a beautiful breath of fresh air for me. 

It was Winter hiking day for kindergarten through third grade kids. As the children were playing on the “big rock”, I glanced over and saw her, “the kindergartner” who plopped herself down at the bottom of the large rock.  She took off her fancy pink sequined backpack, which she had carried with no issues.  She had a plan.  Not only was it snack time for her, but it was time to review the contents she had stuffed into her pack.   She removed her gloves and winter hat and put them neatly beside her.  And so it began, out came the baggie of Cheez-its, her rainbow water bottle, two summer sun hats and her sweet little stuffed bunny. Then she proceeded to put both brimmed summer hats on her head and munched on her snack.  When it was time to go, she confidently put all her belongings away and just like that she was on her way.

Perhaps it was her self-assurance that struck me. She did not care about anyone climbing, yelling or jumping around the rock.  It was her snack time and it was happening regardless of what everyone was doing.

At the next spot in the woods, the kids were intent on making a zip line with a rope.  As directed, I strung a rope between two trees and watched the kids figure out how they would attempt to slide along the rope.  Conceivably it could be with another rope, or using a “y” shaped stick. 

Out of nowhere the confident “kindergartner” appeared and handed her scarf to another child.  Fabulous, thinking after watching all the kids struggle.   It was a moderate success, but what amazed me was that between all the chattering and finagling that was going on, she came up with a logical solution and offered it to the older kids.

She moved to the beat of her own drum and was perfectly happy while she did it.  The simplicity of her choices and joy while doing so reminded me of my child self.  Such innocence and such creative thinking.

I am grateful for the little window of self awareness the kindergartner helped me look through.  She made my day.

Do your kids or grandkids ever remind you of your younger self?  I would love to hear from you!