Go outside and play. Possibly the four sweetest words a mother can hear herself utter. Well, this mother likes them lots, in any case. Maybe it’s because these are new words for us. Before we came to Northbrook there was no way I could have asked my kids to go outside and play – not for any amount of time, anyway. For starters, our lot in the city is about 17 feet wide with not a soft surface anywhere. We also live on a busy street in the heart of the city. In the old days, going outside to play meant mom or dad grabbing the keys and taking the kids to the playground. Since we got the farm, the kids are regularly subjected to their exasperated mother sending them outside. It’s taken some time to get used to it all around. It took the kids months to figure out what to do outside, all by themselves. I nearly wept with joy when I found them playing an elaborate game wherein Hogwarts was the tree house and Diagon Alley was located behind the barn. It took me a little less time to not worry when hours went by and I had no visuals on them. Ultimately, the farm rule is well understood – ‘don’t do anything stupid’ – and my kids are smart enough and old enough to follow it.
Last weekend we sent them down the newly-harvested fields to see if there were any trees that were spared the apple drought. I watched them go off together and snapped this picture:
Every time I see them off in the distance like this, no doubt deep in conversation about something highly relevant to the 7 to 9 year old set, I’m extremely gratified. One of the biggest benefits to buying this place was giving the kids a place to be kids – to be independent, trust their instincts and enjoy the quiet beauty of nature. They are also developing their relationship where we can’t hear them, and I’m a big believer in letting that happen. I really hope with all my heart that this time in their lives will mean something important to them at the end of the day. It’s certainly the best time of my life.