Sprout finally experienced the feeling of the earth beneath him on Tuesday. He’s been outside before – we’ve put miles and miles on our stroller – but it had always been too cold, wet or dark to bring him out since he started crawling in earnest. With the snow gone and the temperature rising, I thought it was time to introduce him to the Great Outdoors. In this case, the Great Outdoors was our weedy front yard. Despite the ordinary nature of it, he still found plenty to fascinate him.
Bringing him outside, I put him on a blanket, so he could make the choice about venturing onto the grass himself. At first, he rushed to the edge of the blanket. As he put his hands out and realized that the grass was separate from the blanket, he distinctly slowed down. He proceeded cautiously, pausing every few seconds. But soon he was on the lawn proper, feeling the crunchy leaves and plants under his hands and knees.
Of course, he explored this new environment the only way he knows how – with his hands and mouth. He grasped and pulled out individual strands and tufts of grass, looking at them carefully. He then promptly attempted to shove them in his mouth. Before he got most of them in, I caught him and gave him a slightly stern, “No, we do not put grass in our mouths” warning before taking away the piece. Not understanding or caring, he would then immediately try to do it again. Once, I did catch him too late and he snuck a lick into his examination of a leaf.
When I wasn’t taking plants out of Sprout’s hands, I was relaxing and pointing out relevant points of interest. Most houses in my neighborhood have large front porches, where you can just watch the world go by. Although our house doesn’t have one, I got a similar feeling from hanging out on the lawn with Sprout. I said hello to my neighbors that I hardly ever see as they went in their front door. I crumpled up leaves in front of Sprout to show him the noise they make and how they change. I pointed out the rising moon, which he completely ignored. Although I thought he wasn’t interested in the birds either, a flock of honking geese caught his attention and he followed them as they flew over his head.
I’ve always hoped that my kid would be interested in nature, as both a lover of the outdoors and an environmental advocate. In fact, the first “toy” he objected to being taken away was a prickly seed pod I gave him while we were out on a walk. Hopefully, this is just the first of many hours exploring the natural world with him.