So, before I start any of this, I need to state very clearly that I will ALWAYS choose nature for my children’s exploration over any other place on Earth. That being said…
Every few weeks or so, I end up having to go to the mall. Unfortunately, the biggest and most affordable organic grocery/organic bulk/health food store is situated there and sometimes, you just need something that doesn’t grow in your garden like organic cocoa powder and sweet potatoes (that do not grow up here).
I will admit that I love going walking there before the stores actually open, coffee in hand, with my son. Why in Universe do I you may ask? Because I can let him run completely free without worrying. Let me explain.
My daughter was never a real worry for us. She explored very cautiously, she was very visual so she would stare, analyse, point and eventually ask. I rarely said NO to my daughter because she rarely required emergency action. Everything with her was slow, methodical, calm… Then came Little Man :
- Who charges at everything like a bull in front of a red cape.
- Who has a fascination with anything dirty, smelly or gross he sees on the ground.
- Who redefines “oral fixation”.
- Who is def to NO, no matter in which tone mama says (or screams) it.
- Who is (I swear) allergic to foot wear and will pull off any kind of shoe, sandal or slipper no matter where we are.
So you can imagine how right now, a nature walk is ANYTHING but relaxing. So far, I’ve dug pebbles out of his nose, acorns out of his mouth (tell me that isn’t the perfect choking hazard for a 12 month old?), I’ve caught him (repeatedly) trying to pick at his ear drum and brain through his ears and nose with sticks… And these things have happened everyday of every week, every time we go outside, ever since he’s been able to crawl. *sighs* I love that he is afraid of nothing. That will lead him places. I’m just not ready for it to lead us to the emergency room quite yet!
So the mall offers me a break. At 8 am, the indoor jungle gym is free and empty, leaving him able to climb and be without the fear of older kids trampling him. At 8 am, the halls are clean, sunny and bare, I can take off his shoes, allowing him to run without being distracted by every crumb on the ground. (I love watching running down the halls with his head held high, like he knows that the ground is safe, no use watching his feet.) At 8 am, the mall echoes and he can scream to his heart’s content and giggle at the sound of his voice answering him back.
For me (and him) it is a new sort of stimulation and exploration. He’s too young to understand marketing, all he sees is bright colors, pictures, lights. So for right now, for his freedom and mama’s sanity, the mall is sometimes our friend. And then the grocery store opens at 9 am, I get my stuff and get out. By 9 h 30 am, we are home and he has passed out in his car seat, exhausted. I transfer him to his bed and he sleeps for 2 hours straight. Mama gets to read, write, clean and maybe even sew… And life is good.