I found that there was a strong pull for me to try and teach and lead you while we were exploring in a natural setting in order to share a "nature experience". I don't know if that is my training as an environmental educator, as a human being, or what I think my role as a parent is...most likely a blend of all the above. I am disappointed when you don't want to go outside. I also fear the possibility of pushing you away from building a bond with the natural world because it was something I wanted badly for you. It was hard to let go of intended outcomes I had for our urban wild adventures together. I definitely held expectations for what we were going to achieve on our explorations. What I learned was when I slowed down and just let the experience unfold, the best that I could, the more present I felt and the more we actually shared and experienced together. I found that what you mostly wanted to do when the two of us set out on a new urban wild adventure was to sit and snack... when I just wanted to go. It was hard for me to sit somewhere that I hadn't intended to sit. I don't know that you were always hungry but I began to think it was a comfort thing - giving you an opportunity to observe your new surroundings. Which ever the circumstances, after a snack and both of us sitting still, I felt a sense of "letting go of expectations" and a new level of comfort arriving for you. This was often followed by your nearby exploration: picking up cones, leaves and grass. Eventually this nearby exploration would turn into you wandering surprisingly far from me in pursuit of a curiosity. This was the first time I had really experienced this with you. I often referred to you as my "lap child" - loving to stay close. I felt a mix of pride, excitement and cautiousness. I remember feeling that perhaps our urban wild adventures were offering me a deeper way to know you, myself as a parent and our relationship.
You were two years old when I felt that I wanted to do more, that I should be doing more, to guide you in developing a deeper affection or fondness for the natural world. I remember feeling that part of the worldview I was providing you was that of trains, buses, roads, tracks and animated animals and cars. I think this early impression of your world provided you lots of motivation and zest to learn vocabulary such as colours, parts of the machines you loved so much as well as numbers. As natural as it is for you to be drawn to these objects, colours and moving parts, I was feeling that we were both missing the natural hum of the world around us. That the moving parts of nature were overshadowed and perhaps outcompeted by the machines of man. I was seeking and craving a balance and even more than that I wanted to take a stand for what I thought was important for your health and wellbeing - a relationship with the natural world. As an environmental educator for most of my professional life I had developed and delivered outdoor programming for school aged children to foster a love and respect for the natural world. Why was this feeling more difficult in a parental role with my child? I started to actively pursue experiences in the natural world for us to share- I call these our urban wild adventures. Along the way I discovered more about myself: as a parent and as a former child in nature. But most of all I discovered more about you and your curiosities, skills, independence, boundaries and spirit as a current child in nature.