A Day of Harvesting Basil and Purposefully Unpurposeful Parenting

I wrote this to remind my self of all the ways the perfect day can happen. And just how easy it can be if I simply stop TRYING to make the perfect day happen. May I always do my job well and provide her with the room to grow as she pleases!

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I only just read the name for what happened here this morning, last night: “Slow Parenting”.

At first I thought it was going to be something I didn’t like. “Slow Parenting” lends itself to sounding unlikable, I think!

I tend to think of what happened here today as “Purposefully Unpurposeful Parenting”. And while that may be a mouthful (and possibly grammatically impossible!) I think it describes it so much better than “Slow Parenting”.

“Slow Parenting” is simply the phrase that describes the idea that one need not go to great lengths to entertain their child. By no means neglecting their parental duties, simply suggesting that one does not need to schedule constant activities. No need to buy new entertaining toys. Fill their young ones hours with video games and TV time… All would fall into this category of entertaining your child.

Rather, slow parenting simply allows your child the freedom to entertain themselves the way they are built to be entertained: Discovering! Playing! Exploring! Anything that peaks their natural curiosity… Being out of doors! (Or on the exceptionally hot or freezing day, offering them an indoor environment that leads to the same sort of games one sees children enjoying out of doors!) It seems perfect that the morning after reading that there was a phrase for this newly popular but actually old parenting style that it would be a perfectly cool, slightly clouded yet not muggy, 70 degree California morning!

We went out back promptly at 9 AM, post breakfast and post waving dad off for the day. I had an overabundance of much neglected basil taking over my herb garden. It demanded attention. Hailee was more than excited to slip on her sandals and head out by my side. And Claire…. Well, Claire didn’t have much of a choice as I scooped her up, along with a large blanket to lay out on the grass. A couple of balls, a random ping pong paddle (which she mistook as a book she was incapable of opening for a good 10 minutes) and the grass edging her comfortable blanket were more than enough to keep my precious, active 11 month old perfectly busy. Her “ti-ti”and doggy were pleasant company, sprawled alongside her. Hailee was naturally thrilled her toy trucks and cars were not blisteringly hot as they always are during our usual 100+ degree summer days. She busied her immediately, not needing any prompting from myself. Much unlike indoor free play time would have required of me!

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I spent a good 30 minutes, scissors in hand, cutting back my wild plants, hoping for the unlikely scenario in which I could also have the time today to collect all the leaves from the stems I was removing and possibly even turn it into a sauce. That seemed like rather high expectations on top of my usual morning routine so I settled for pruning alone being enough. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Claire was content on her blanket until she decided to put up a little fuss about not being able to crawl as much as she likes, due to her dislike of the grass on her knees… Picky picky if you ask me! ;)

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So I set down my scissors and held her hand as she toddled along on her wobbly, thick legs to the low retaining wall that runs along our strawberry bed. There, she was happy to stand and bounce as her sister dumped rocks from her toy truck, from one pile to the next, in front of her. By 10 AM she was overdue for a nap, so I quickly changed a wet diaper and tucked her in. She was so ready for some sleep!

Back outside Hailee was still happily playing with her dump truck and rocks. As my pile of basil grew higher still, I looked over my shoulder to spy Hailee now playing tug of war with her sweet dog. That took a good 10 minutes!

I brought my pile over to the blanket, and sat down with a bowl to begin the long process of removing every leaf from those basil stems. Still amused I was being allowed to productive for this long!

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^ This was only 1/4 of my end product! Hooray!

My assistance was required for a quick  bathroom break, and although I was certain she would ask to stay in now, she surprised me by running right back out! Wonderful!

She proceeded to inform me that her toy Tonka truck was now named “Tuck”and I felt privileged to witness the adventures her wild imagination took them on. She exclaimed excitedly to me as they braved high mountains and she described herself as being “On top of the Woold, Mama!”

She drove her cars to both grandmothers homes, where she then pretended to go through her usual routine of favorite activities at each house; chickens at Grandma Livvie’s and she took Phoebe with her to Grandma Alice’s. It was eye opening to see what things stand out in her little mind!

Her questions provided us with her lessons, her imagination created her schedule, and all manner of wild life were her play mates!

For our daily dose of science she asked me voluntarily what made this mornings clouds grey instead of our usual fluffy white ones. The idea of rain coming from somewhere and being able to understand that idea excited her!

Math, we cheerily counted the baby birds that lined our fence, noting how, as they came and went how there were consequently more or less. When a whole flock flew up together she excitedly announced “Now theres 3-6-9-10 Mom!” She makes my heart happy!

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She had lessons in gardening, how the sun makes flowers bloom, and practiced her sweeping on daddy’s left over grass clippings.

She stretched her  fine motor skills as she successfully returned all of sisters tennis balls into the container they belonged in.

Practiced her speech as she learned to pronounce my name. She still thinks its “Klay-ate-lynn” though, so we may have to repeat that one tomorrow.

Her writing came as she eagerly practiced her “H” with side walk chalk.

MORE science when we discovered a large “watermelon spider” among the leaves and a praying mantis that crawled up to her shoulder.

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^Praying Mantis’ are our new favorite critters!

Anatomy when she stuck her hands down her pants and informed me “I’m touching my buns Mama!”……. QUICKLY followed by a lesson on not touching our buns! :)

Cooking as she plucked the basil leaves alongside me for a few minutes and informed me how excited she was to have “Sauce and Pasta for lunch!”

………… Followed by: “OK Mama, I LOOOOOOVE to help you but I got lots of stuffs to do!” And she scurried away. I was more than happy to watch her run off because I was just so thrilled to watch her little self do what she does best! Learning while playing!

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You see…. By giving her space to play and discover, she learned more in one morning out of doors than she would have no matter how much I had forced on her in doors. Being out doors lends itself to learning. It intrigues her. Makes her curious.

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I learned a lot too. I learned my baby has so many quesions she wants to ask. IN HER OWN TIME. And not much at this age she requires being taught. Her brain will ask what it desires to know. And she has a very deep thirst for knowledge!

Why do we squelch so much of their natural curiosity and desire to learn at their own pace at this young age? Why are we so eager to set them down at a desk for hours at a time so they can LEARN when learning is meant to be done in the natural element. Children that are allowed to PLAY more and learn what they are curious about, learn better. Just because she’s bright doesn’t require me to push her along even more quickly than she already goes! She will never be this little and this eager to learn again… So untouched by the unfounded demands this world places upon our little’s. I never want to force her again! She is eager enough on her own I just need to focus on finding what triggers her learning. Thats my only job as Mama. Not scheduling her whole life or figuring out who she is for her. But simply allowing her to discover as she wishes.

As a plus, they each at a 2 left over pancakes for snack, a peach, and 2 bowls of pasta with fresh pesto sauce for lunch! And they are soundly asleep. Life is good!

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One Comment

  1. Mom says:

    August 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    What a lovely recording of your day! Sounds like I would’ve totally interrupted by coming by this morning;) so glad I didn’t! A mamma never tires of watching her girl learn

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