Wednesday, July 30, 2008


This summer, a parent at Connor's school took the initiative to form two weekly outings per week - almost every week - for the entire summer. Connor has been to several of them, and has always had fun. Given that the school is a Waldorf school that really encourages children to be outside and use their imagination, almost all of the outings have been to outdoor places - some new, some old. Because this type of school places so much emphasis on exploring nature, there isn't a parent among us that would tell our child not to splash in a puddle, or gather a bunch of sticks with the intent of building a dam across a creek, or be discouraged from playing on a playground that had been exposed to pouring rain only a few moments earlier. Indeed, we all dutifully carry a second set of clothes and hope a third isn't necessary. Or, we at least have a towel in the car for the ride home with a wet kid.

One of the beautiful finds this summer was Discovery Creek at Glen Echo. This place has all the elements of fun. For starters, there is an indoor space that is designed to look like a forest. There's a little rope bridge kids can cross, a slide that goes through a fake tree, and some little nooks to hide in. They have a fairly broad assortment of animals that they bring out to talk with the kids about, and as you might have guessed from the name - a creek. Kids take a nature walk down to a creek and can then splash around, if desired.

The first time we went, it was incredibly hot. So, not surprisingly, Connor and a few other kids decided to walk as far as they could through the creek, and were they ever rewarded. Eventually, the creek gets a couple feet deep, which is plenty deep for the small folk to swim in and go underwater. I could hardly blame Connor for doing this (the first of the crew) because it was SO.HOT. And, had I not had Helen in a sling on my side, I might've been tempted to join him. Only trouble is, Connor wanted to go through this big tunnel, but I didn't want to risk getting in any deeper, so we needed to come back another time - with Ed.
As expected, Ed was easily talked into going through the tunnel, though perhaps he should've taken my advice and put on the swimsuit I had brought for him. Since I didn't have a swimsuit, I stayed back with Helen. But, when Connor and Ed headed through the tunnel, and Helen and I waved our farewells, it was clear that Helen did not think it was OK for the boys to get to go there and leave her.

Just to prove that she is as adept at making a mess in water as any toddler, she splashed her heart out on a rock for the duration of Ed's and Connor's exploration. The water was cool and Helen seemed to enjoy every last drop that she managed to splash in her face. This is such a welcome change from just a few months ago when Helen had decided that she did not like swimming and protested (loudly) if her foot even touched the water.


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