Author note - I wrote this blog entry back in late April. You will notice a reference to my wife being pregnant....well she went into labour just a few days after my first draft. I've just rediscovered this, and it's fitting as we move into Autumn weather
And....our twins are now 5 months old and doing what 5 month olds do, meaning my wife and I are tired!
Car Problems Lead to Outside Play
So, we had a dose of adult this week. My wife went to pick up our daughter from pre-school and when she got back to the van, it wouldn’t start. We had some electrical issues last year, which I thought we took care of, so I think “oh great, they didn’t catch everything”. Luckily she calls a friend as is able to get a ride home. Of course now the car is stuck, and we have to deal with it.
So I get home from work, we have dinner, then pile in another car we had access to this week to check out the problem. And of course, it’s April, so it is raining at a pretty steady clip, so we all threw on our rain jackets and boots.
I bring jumper cables with the assumption we have a slow leak, or something along those lines (no I am not mechanically inclined, that’s about as far as my brain could comprehend). We get there, align the cars, pop the hoods, and connect the cables. I go to start our van, and…..oh that’s a sound I haven’t heard before?! We both quickly conclude it is not the battery, and realize we will need to get it to a shop.
Now remember it is raining pretty hard, and we are not all that mechanical AND we have two kids (7 and 5-years-old) with us. So to buy us some time, we send our kids across the street to a small park. After making sure they won’t get hit by another car, they bolt and proceed to have great fun together.
So we realize we will need a tow, and no shops are open at this time, so we wrangle the kids back into the car and head home.
On the short drive back, we pass another park that we have gone to before, and the kids have liked. They both blurt out, asking if we can stop at this park. My wife and I look at each other…..sure, why not.
The kids are excited. Again they jump out of the car and run to the park. Now, it’s raining even harder than when we first stopped just 20 minutes before. My wife and I get out as well to watch them and enjoy the rain and we both think our kids are crazy, who can have fun at a park in the pouring rain?
Now my wife is 8 months pregnant (with twins) so she doesn’t last too long and goes back to the car to sit and rest. I quickly follow suit because, hey, it’s raining and I don’t want to stand out there!
While in the car, we are watching our boy and girl running, jumping, monkey barring around, just as they would on any other day. I start thinking again – why is the rain not bothering them? Then I go another step – why is it bothering me? I then take the leap, open the door and rejoin them. I run around a bit, we race, have some fun, and then pack back up and head home for bedtime.
All too often, when it rains, we do not encourage our kids to go outside and play. It’s cold and they will get sick, right? Well, not really. Being in the cold too long can lower your body’s ability to keep a sickness at bay, but the sickness must already be present. While I did not dive into depths on it, I hardly believe 20 minutes in the rain on a 6o Celsius day is enough. And plus, you counter the increased risk by being colder by the greater protection you receive from being active and healthy! (or so I tell myself)
But this myth persists. And it gets passed down. So we grow up in fear of playing in the rain. As adults we avoid it.
Monkey See, Monkey Do!
But to my point (finally). I went back outside not because I suddenly enjoy playing in the rain, but because I do not want my kids to inherit my biases. My kids (and I suspect most) are little sponges, and they mimic what we as parents/guardians do. If we avoid walks in the rain, splashing in puddles, going for runs in the winter, eventually our kids will follow suit. And this goes for things beyond the rain. Exercise, eating, sleeping, screen time. We need to make a conscious effort to live the life we want our kids to live.
Gone are the days of “do as I say not as I do” (not that this saying ever worked anyway). In general, we ask our kids to be smart, well that means mine are especially happy to be smart. “Why does dad get to play video games during the week and we don’t”. At that moment, I knew I had to stop playing games during the week. And it wasn’t just to stop while they were looking. I had to stop, I had to walk the walk. Now instead I stretch, or clean up, or play with them. Because regardless of what we think, our kids will pick up our habits, I just hope to show them mostly good ones!
Oh, a tow and new starter later and we have our van back!