I feel like nature has helped me teach my daughter a lot of things about the world, and I believe it can help teach us adults some things as well.
There are three main things I have found it teaches: how we look at each other, how we look at ourselves, and how we look at life.
How We Look at Each Other
We’re all different in some way, and it has long been the tendency to surround yourself with others that are similar to you in more ways than not. While this may feel comfortable for many on an individual level, it is not healthy for society as a whole to take it to a level of feeling superior over another segment of the population. We talk about equality and treating everyone the same, but what hit home the point for me in a childlike way of explaining it was when the weather started warming up this past summer… and the mosquitoes came out to play! Mosquitoes don’t discriminate; why should you? Our blood all tastes the same to them!
How We Look at Ourselves
Back to our differences, being different is okay – it’s what makes the world beautiful. We are one big piece of art because of our diversity. Look at flowers; there are so many varieties, colors, and designs. How many different types of birds have you seen just in Cincinnati? Birds come in all sizes, all sorts of colors, from our state bird, the Cardinal, to giant turkey vultures! You may think one bird or flower is prettier than another, but they all have their place in nature. Trees don’t even come in just one kind! From Maple to Evergreen to Weeping Willow, they all help us keep breathing and living on this Earth.
Would art have the same impact if every piece were the same and only one color of the spectrum was used each and every time? Each of us makes up this beautiful masterpiece of a work of art that is humanity. Teach your kids to embrace what makes them different and love the differences of others. My daughter is biracial and has sometimes felt like she doesn’t fit in with any one group. She also has extra layers of skin on her one thumb that formed in the womb and looks different from other people’s thumbs. We show her the tapestry of nature and teach her to embrace herself as she embraces all nature has to offer.
How We Look at Life
From the time we’re children, we like to say, “That’s not fair!” and parents respond with, “Life’s not fair.” Some people embrace hard work and some just prefer the easy path. Many, like me, struggle with patience. Whether we’re young or all grown up, nature can teach us a lot about how to look at life, prepare for hard times, and reap the benefits of hard work and endurance. I have always had a black thumb (not brown, black!), but with our new house this year, I have been trying my hand at planting seeds, bulbs, and flowers.
We have also gotten our daughter involved in the landscaping and gardening and make a family project out of it on the weekends. Adilyn is learning the value of hard work, and I am learning more lessons in patience. There is so much excitement to picking out seeds/bulbs and planting them that first day. Then, you have to wait a week or two weeks just to see the tiniest sprout of green appear. The waiting kills me, but the gratification of watching my plant babies grow is so wonderful.
Also, this past Spring, we watched a dedicated squirrel digging out his buried acorns from ALL over our front and back yards. It was a nice depiction of storing up reserves for the lean times – another great lesson in life for how to manage our money!
There are so many other lessons nature can teach us, but these are just a few. Observations from being outside can provide some of the best tools for teaching our kids about life. Embrace nature in all its beauty and pass the lessons along!