I have a friend with a baby due soon and want to be able to attend the birth. Since Chuck is on call so much, and my mom is away on and off through the summer, I thought it would be a good idea to get Fiona comfortable with our favourite 'babysitter'. I use the word in quotes because RoseAnne is really more of an adopted big sister and friend to the kids than a caregiver, but she is 17 and super-responsible and I have occasionally hired her to cope with the older three kids. I asked her to spend a couple of half days with us back to back to see if Fiona would take to her. The first day RoseAnne came to our house. The next day we went out of town to go grocery shopping, have a picnic lunch and then go to the beach. Fiona was happy as a clam with RoseAnne at the park while I did the shopping... her first time apart from adult family members!
The beach in Nakusp is sandy, unlike the rocky beaches around our hometown. I was struck by the fact that a sandy beach is an art and engineering material simply perfect for children. There's no set-up, there's no clean-up other than a quick swim. There's no adult saying "no, don't mix those colours" or "please don't waste the paper" or "how beautiful!" or "let's save that to show daddy" or "how about a little more over here?" There's absolutely no parental judgement or control. And it's ephemeral, so perfectionism really doesn't rear its ugly head. Beach sand is so totally experiential and process-oriented... there's nothing about end-products.
I think we must try to spend more time at the sandy beach.
The kids have been spending huge amounts of time in the dirt near the lawn, mixing water and dirt to make mud of more or less clayish consistency, sculpting, digging, eroding, piling, building, drying, patting, moistening, packing. I thought about all the valuable imaginative play that was involved, but until I watched them in the sand at the beach, I hadn't thought about the value of the artistic exploration.
Three cheers for muck!