Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Let Them Be Little

This post originally aired on my personal blog in January 2015. Two years (and one new son) later and these sentiments remain true. 

On Friday, I took Jackson to our awesome local library (AKA our new happy place) to play around, read, and kill some time before Brandon arrived home from work. We played around inside for about a half hour before Jax started peering at the "big kids" playing outside.

He. Wanted. Out. So. Badly.

Since it was a nice day, and since my little toddler wan pining to go play with the school aged kids, we went outside--and it was awesome! I had no idea that there was a hands on area in the back complete with musical instruments, playground, smooth wood pieces to build with, and much more. Of course, Jackson wanted nothing to do with that and instead crawled all around in the rocks, grass, and all over the plastic boardwalk (complete with several steps for a curious tot to climb up and down). 

It's amazing how Jackson turned one and just RAN--he seriously changed from a baby to a little boy over night and is now fascinated by blocks, Legos, books, and dirt (this kid loves him some dirt). Sure, dirt is a pain to clean off clothes but it's easy to wipe off tiny hands and faces so I let him pick up rocks, crawl through the grass, and explore this exciting new place. 

He was in heaven and I was having the best time following him, admiring the rocks he proudly showed me, and just taking the moment in.

That's when I heard a voice come from behind us.

"You let him just play in the dirt and get all dirty like that?"

I turned around to see another mom (whose kids had been playing inside the library the same time Jax and I were) staring in horror at my joyously dirty son and his (in her mind) negligent and irresponsible mother.

"Oh, yeah?" I answered, taken aback by her question.

"Whatever, I guess." she responded as she rolled her eyes and walked off with her two kids.

I was stunned and couldn't find the words to respond.  

Was I wrong for letting Jackson play outside? I mean, sure, he was getting dirty but he wasn't being rambunctious or causing any kind of trouble. I kept going over the scenario in my head and tried to figure out why she'd be upset with me for letting him play.

Another 15 minutes passed before the sun began to set and it was time to go home and get Mr. Jax into the bath. On the short drive home, I started thinking about my own childhood and how I was always outside with my brother, next door neighbor/best friend, and all the other neighborhood kids--climbing on the swing set, jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler under it, and playing Power Rangers in the front yard are just a few of my fondest childhood memories.

I loved my childhood.

Every time I think back on our neighborhood hide-and-seek games and catching of crawdads and garter snakes (and naming them Sarah Michelle Gellar), I can't help but smile.

I want my kids to have that same kind of childhood.

If Jackson wants to dig in the dirt for worms to take fishing, he should be able to.

If he decides he doesn't like getting dirty and would rather paint, read, or do something else he enjoys, he should be able to.

If he wants to run around like crazy, partake in water fights, and climb trees, he should be able to.

As long as kids aren't hurting themselves or others and are being respectful, let them run and play. 

Let them enjoy that all too short period known as childhood--it goes by way, way too quickly and once it's gone, that's it.

Let your kids be innocent and naive to this crazy and often scary world around them. 

Let them figure out what they like doing and what they're good at (whether it be sports, art, music, etc.).

Let them get dirty.

Let their imaginations soar.

Let them be little.
Mamma and her messy (but oh-so sweet) boys. 

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