03 August 2010

Last Child in the Woods

I recently read a summary/article about the book The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  In short the book is about how there's a need to save our children from the lack of disconnect to nature.  He calls it nature deficit disorder and believes many culturally current childhood issues such as ADHD, depression and obesity are a result of this major divide between our children and the great outdoors.  Although I've only read exerts from the book I think that Mr. Louv may be on to something here.  I see exactly what he references happening in our own neighborhood.  There's perfectly built fences and paved sidewalks, there's constant parent supervision, there's culd-e-sacs and isolated subdivisions, there's beautifully landscaped neighborhood pools and ipods, cell phones, and many other methods of being incessantly plugged in.  Where are the "woods" to explore, the creeks to catch crayfish, the open fields to pick dandelions, the kids playing outside until the street lights go on?  Where are the mud pies?  We used to sit at the edge of my drive way and find puddles, sticks, and rocks and make mud pies for what seemed like hours!  It's very sad to think my own children will be part of this "Last Child in the Woods" generation.  I've written about this a bit in previous posts but only recently came across this book.  So what did I do upon reading about it?  I took Mallory outside to make good old fashion mud pies.  I encouraged her to do it herself, feel the textures and most importantly get messy!!  I would love to report that she adored the event but she wasn't as delighted about feeling nature as I would have liked her to be.  After about 10 minutes she said "play bubbles now."  I was momentarily disappointed and then I realized how young she was and all I can do is continue to give her those experiences and hope that one day she seeks them out herself!


ma said...

Naomi is my late husband's grand daughter and I have been reading her blogs as well as her friends for some time. I am 88 years old and find your blog most interesting!!! I now have a great grand daughter who will be 2 in December. She came with all my children and grandchildren for a week's reunion on the Oregon coast. She waded into the ocean with her sneakers on and had to be rescued. I have pictures of her eating dirt in her back yard, so you have to remember that children's personalities are very different. I had in spite of my mother's death when I was 4 and half months old unlimited time outdoors, remember picking wild flowers and eating beech nuts. My four kids were in the city in a fenced in back yard but we spent the summers on the Canadian shore where they had outdoor experiences that they loved. My childhood had skin infections that aren't even diagnosed these days as well as every childhood disease. I suffered styes, boils, carbuncles because the level of cleanliness was low. Took baths in a tin tub on the kitchen table and used out houses, not bathrooms. You have introduced a level of cleanliness which is wonderful but your daughter likes that too much to be enamoured of dirt ! She can get interested in bugs, birds, water, rocks, the whole earth is hers to explore. Your enthusiasm will allow her to love this earth and it's wonders. Don't despair. Clarice

Tricia said...

Clarice- Thank you so much for your comments and your insights into your experiences as a child. I enjoyed reading about your life with the great outdoors. I appreciate your candor and am so glad you have enjoyed my blog!! Best wishes always.

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