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    The Great Outdoors

    October 27, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    Our children need to play outside more,” I said to Si on Saturday night. You see, Si pretended he was Pa Ingalls that day and worked from sun-up to sun-down {or is it “sunup to sundown”?}. Saturday was Trenching Day, which means that Si and our friend, Dan, spent the day getting their arms shaken off by a Ditch Witch while trying to create trenches in straight lines in which the irrigation piping can be ran in the near future.

    And the children were with him the entire time.

    Well, not Baby Q., but that’s because she eats dirt, rolls in dirt, and is generally a giant mess when outside. I couldn’t attend to her because I had to cook for the working men, plus Dan’s wife came for a timely visit.

    But E. and A., along with Dan’s kids, who I’ll call The Brothers J. for internet purposes, had a great time being outside all day long. They even ate their snacks outside! I brought them slices of cake, bananas, you name it. They ate it with dirty hands and faces and it was great.

    The reason why I told Si we should do it more often is because I realized that E. hadn’t gotten in trouble the entire day, except maybe once at the very end when he was tired and everyone was getting cranky. But other than that, he was happy as a lark and very obedient.

    I tried to analyze why this was, and it dawned on me that a lot of what I get on to him about deals with acting inappropriately for indoors. In fact, I often tell him that he’s beginning to be wild so he needs to go outside Where the Wild Things Are. You see, a lot of my run-ins with that boy sound like this:

    Don’t run in the house.

    Don’t jump on the couch/bed/loveseat/futon.

    Don’t throw things in the living room.

    Don’t hit the walls with your drumstick.


    The point is, all of this behavior is acceptable outside. It just happens to cause disasters and injuries when it happens in close quarters, especially near small girls who like to cry.

    Sunday, we began reading E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It. This is our new family read-aloud now that we’ve finished the Little House Books. Anyhow, imagine my surprise to find that my thought that the children should play outside more because they are displaying outside behavior is actually an afterthought:

    London is like a prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich.


    London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves–such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape–all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things are in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.

    This just goes to show that my original assumption about good thoughts is true: everything worth thinking has already been thought. Every good thought these days is an Afterthought. Actually, bad thoughts these days are Afterthoughts, too. Like how Obama thinks the thoughts of Karl Marx.

    I’m just saying.

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  • Reply Brandy October 28, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Sounds like a good way to spend a Saturday. 🙂 I forgot about the napping issue. One of the things I love about summer is that everyone is so worn out after a long morning of waterplay that they want to sleep half the afternoon away. Ahhh…quiet. 🙂

  • Reply r October 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    We had an outside day on Saturday, too. N and I had spent the afternoon hours during the week tearing out the dead spring/summer plants and flowers and re-planted on Saturday morning. L is such a pleasure when she gets to be outside. And… it makes it super easy to get her down for a nap later.

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