This was the theme of my summers growing up (I hated being shoved outside, and quickly learned that offering to do the dishes or help out vacuuming would get me out of it – which is how I ended up doing the vast majority of kid chores in my household – the other three ran as fast as they could :-). I live on a dead end street, with a lot of little kids on it – and find that I really just flat out love sending my kids out to play. I don’t send Sam out, obviously, unless it’s a super nice day, the windows are open and my stepdaughters are here with him, but Jess goes outside most days and I love it. I love that she’s out there playing with kids I know vaguely, making up worlds and imagining games that belong entirely to her and not me.
I know that sounds terrible. All of my little attachment parenting voices in my head are screaming that I should be more actively involved, I should know what she’s doing and where she’s doing it. But I know she’s safe, I know she’s happy, and I know that all of it is happening to her – not to me. I believe that my job, as her parent, is to guide her to independence, to be able to be safe and secure and competent without me shielding her or protecting her all the time. And this – just saying “go play outside” and making it her responsibility to come up with a game to entertain herself, is so rewarding. She comes in all grubby from making mud cakes and she’s got tons of new friends (some of whom, I don’t think actually speak English) and she’s so happy. I’m so thrilled about how much she’s enjoying the summer so far. Two days into it 🙂