I love nature and being outside, I grew up largely unsupervised in the safety of a giant backyard – I climbed trees and harvested caterpillars. I never wore shoes and threw temper tantrums if anyone tried to take a brush to my hair.
I think I always assumed this was a kid thing – that all children responded the same way to the freedom of the outdoors, I found out just recently that I was wrong.
A few days ago I decided to take Lucy to a remote arboretum for a lunchtime picnic. I packed a nice spread, a blanket, plenty of lemonade and headed out close to noon. We were the only car in the parking lot and as soon as Lucy realized we were alone she clung to me like the entire place was crawling with hidden serial killers. I could barely walk with her hanging on to me but I directed her in to the woods and assured her that we were safe and there was no cause for worry. Nothing I could say would relieve her anxiety. We didn’t go far into the woods, when I suggested that we find a nice shady spot to put down our blanket, I got her to sit down…reluctantly.
The space we had chosen was under a maple tree across a ravine from a giant rhododendron. A rhododendron that was home to several birds. Birds that kept making noise. It was 20 minutes of “what was that?!?” “Did you hear that?!?” “Mom! What’s out there!?!” The answer to all of which was, “That was a bird Lucy”. She was clearly not enjoying herself and at one point told me “Nature makes me nervous – I don’t think I’m an outside sort of person Mom” Huh. Okay.
After she was ‘done’ eating she told me she had to use the bathroom and I decided it was time that she learned to squat under a maple tree like God intended – I mean how did she get to be five and never pee outside? I feel like I failed as a parent.
After she successfully relieved herself she was insistent that we get back to ‘civilization’ I offered her a bag of Doritos (Lucy will do anything for Doritos!) to stay a little while longer and explore, but she looked at me with big round teary eyes and said “Please, please Mom I can’t take this anymore.”
I took pity on her and we left, and headed to the mall where according to her she felt the “most safe”.