The photos in today’s post are not all that exciting, but they show a truly lovely part of our day and that’s what this blog is all about. We had reached the witching hour this afternoon. You know the time of day that I mean, when everyone is tired, patience is an effort, the dinner needs to be made, and no-one is at their best. I knew what we needed was to just re-group and get some fresh air and sunshine. We headed outside with no particular plan in mind.
We began by watering our vegetable patch. R(3) has been carefully tending some carrots and celery that he planted with his Daddy a few weeks ago. As he sprayed the hose over the garden, he said “Just soft and gentle, like Daddy said. We don’t blast them.” He continued watering the garden, declaring that “hosing is fun” and at one point “Hey Mummy. Guess what?” “What darling?” “I love you.” I knew heading outside was a good idea.
After a little while, I spied an empty plastic tub that I had washed out earlier and had left in the sun to dry. I suggested to R that he fill it with the hose. For some reason, tubs full of water have always been a favourite with R, and even with no other props around to put into the tub, I knew the simple act of filling it would be enough to hold his interest. He delighted in the sound that the water made, and the bubbles that frothed on the surface.
Before long he had gathered a few pebbles from a nearby garden bed and put them into the water, declaring them to be baby fish. Next, he plucked a dandelion flower out of the grass (his Daddy will be pleased that some weeding was incorporated into our play!) and said that it was a crab (talk about imagination!) Finally, a dried brown leaf became the Mummy fish, looking for food to feed the baby pebble fish.
The photos may look rather mundane. A plastic tub, a few unremarkable pebbles and a leaf, but when you’re three, a tub full of water becomes an underwater world full of all sorts of creatures. R was as gentle with the leaf as if he was handling a real creature.
He lay the leaf on the pebbles as the Mummy fish was feeding her babies.
This went on for more than half an hour. R carried on his underwater story as I relaxed beside him, both of us recharging in the last of the afternoon’s sunshine. Eventually he returned to the hose and explored how the different types of water flow (we have an adjustable hose nozzle with different types of water flow) felt against his hand. He talked about the different sounds the water made when it gushed with force or sprayed gently.
At last he was done, and he lifted the tub and emptied it. Marvelling at the loud “tidal wave” that gushed out. (I would like to put a disclaimer here that we would normally have recycled this water for the garden but it has been raining non-stop here for about 3 months! This is the first completely dry week we’ve had in as long as I can remember!) We went back into the house, relaxed and recharged, R to play freely, and me to cook chicken and leek vegetable pie. Turned out pretty nice too! Helps to have a relaxed chef.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, these photos are not all that exciting, but that is kind of the point. Children don’t need much for their imaginations to be stimulated, for their curiosity and wonder to be sparked. It’s the old cliche of the cardboard box being more exciting to the child than the expensive toy that it once contained. When they are not over stimulated, or over-directed by an adult as to what and how they should be playing, children will naturally be creative and innovative with what they see around them. It might just be a few rocks and some water, but this type of play builds resourcefulness, creativity and problem solving skills.
What do you do when everyone’s at the end of their tether? How do you re-group and recharge? Let’s share some ideas in the comments.