I never realized how much I love the arrival of spring until I became a parent. Kids notice the good stuff.
Last spring, our kids showed us how our flowers close at night and open as the sunlight’s warmth reaches them.
This spring, they excitedly run outside and show us which new flowers emerged—tulips, daffodils, and wild flowers popping up with spring. They lead us on “nature walks” through our neighborhood, pointing out the new flowers and bending over to smell them.
They also love to trick us into smelling a popular flowering tree in our neighborhood that, well, does not smell sweet or pleasant! They laugh as we crinkle our noses.
I love spring as a parent because I see so clearly how our kids live through their senses. They gently touch, smell, and gaze at spring’s flowers. They dig in the dirt, finding worms in healthy soil.
As grownups, we often live in our minds, not through our bodies as our children do. Their senses guide them on little adventures, letting them see and smell and touch nature’s goodness. Spring offers a chance for us parents to experience the world through our senses too. Our kids rekindle something within us that is both familiar and inspiring.
And yet, as parents, we also worry about nature—specifically, our collective impact upon the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the environment for which we care. We wonder what kind of natural world we are leaving to our children.
However, we have chosen not to burden our kids with this reality just yet. They are young, and we believe that they will learn to care for the environment by learning through their senses as kids.
Sure, we teach them about composting (“Isn’t it amazing that our banana peel will turn back into healthy soil for other plants to grow?!”), recycling (“They’ll be able to make something new out of this!”), and the outdoor mantra of leave-no-trace (“Other people will be able to enjoy this field of wildflowers too!”).
But we don’t burden their little minds with fatalistic notions of what is happening to our natural world—not yet at least. We teach them that Mother Nature is delicate and yet resilient too, pointing out that our tulips survived the spring snowstorm. And we let them learn for themselves, through their senses, just how majestical Mother Nature truly is.
As they grow up, they will learn all about the challenges we collectively face as a species living on Planet Earth. And perhaps they will inspire solutions and effect changes in how we live and interact with the natural world.
But in the meantime, they are learning to love nature with all their heart. And for us, that’s a great start.