I’ve been a geek since I was 4 years old and discovered my father’s Atari 2600 stashed in the back of a closet. But, I’ve also been a fair outdoors man. I like to hike and camp (both at the same time if there are backpacking trails), fish, bike, hunt, etc. I’m not shy about being outside; but I also like a plethora of indoor activities, primarily those of the geeky or crafty nature.
Tron is a bit different from me in this respect thus far. The boy is all about being outside, all the time, always. He doesn’t care what the weather is doing. It can be freezing cold or boiling hot, he wants to be out there. Raining, snowing, windy, whatever. It’s all about the outside. When we’re indoors, he drags us over to the door and wants out, and unfortunately explanations like “Kiddo, there’s a typhoon going on out there, we can’t go outside.” don’t dampen his desire to be out. Unlike his geeky father, the indoor world seems to hold a much lower interest for him. Perhaps he hasn’t grown an appreciation for indoor activities yet, or perhaps he never will.
As a parent I have mixed feelings about his joy of the outdoors. On the one hand I certainly want to nurture this love of things out-of-doors. Such a desire will make the “Go out and play” portion of parenting much easier if he’s wanting to go out and play anyway. Things like sports, hiking, camping, fishing (and other things I like to do outside) will be things I can share with him and that he will enjoy doing with me. If he’s always outside running around I won’t have to worry about child obesity in him, nor will I have to worry about him spending all his time on the computer or watching TV. And, we have a fairly big yard (for the city anyway) so there’s plenty of room for playing. Plus there’s a pool, so if all else fails he can go for a swim or have an impromptu pool party with friends.
On the other hand, he still needs constant, direct supervision outside. Indoors he’s pretty well contained. The house is reasonably child-safe; and he hasn’t yet figured out how to get into the areas that aren’t so safe for him. He doesn’t need a lot of supervision if he wants to play by himself, and that means I can get stuff done or even goof off a bit. Outdoors, however, it’s pretty much all about keeping Tron in the yard and from hurting himself on the plethora of random dangerous things he manages to find. Without one parent wrangling the child, nothing can really get done outside. Be it yard work, gardening, cleaning the pool, or working in the garage; if there’s only one parent nothing gets done because the toddler needs watching. If you don’t watch him, he’ll make a b-line for the street and try to play in traffic; or he’ll want to play with Daddy’s tools; or eat rocks.
That’s not to say we don’t take him outside a lot, it’s just a much more monotonous job watching a toddler pick grass then run around the car 40 times than it is to just look in the living room every now and again to make sure he’s still in there organizing his toys (Seriously, he doesn’t really play with toys, he organizes and re-organizes them). We try to make sure he gets several hours outside time every day the weather is amicable, but all of that time for us is just watching him run around; which is fine, but you don’t get anything else done at this point and he can exhaust you pretty fast chasing him around. And better yet if you do try to do something, Tron steals your tools. I cannot edge the lawn with him around or he steals the step edger and runs amok with it. Nor can I shovel or rake for similar reasons. I haven’ t even attempted wood working with him around; all I need is him fixating on my circular saw. He’s a “helper”.
So it’s nice that he loves being outside, it would just be nicer if he was willing to play within line of sight and not steal our tools if we want to get something done.
I’m rather looking forward to when he’s a bit older and certain rules can actually be imparted and understood by him. Things like “don’t run into the street” or “don’t pull all the mulch out of the flower bed”. Better yet will be the time when he becomes a source of labor, but one thing at a time.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?