I've recently become a dad, and that means rediscovering all the old baby-books regardless of whether they're charmingly retro or just mindnumbingly dull.
One that I quite like - and my son puts up with - is Peebo! It's all about what one baby sees when sat in different situations through an ordinary day.
It's an old one, so old that the pram looks like a bucket on wheels and the mum heats her iron by the open fire.
A page in this book that has really stuck with me is when the baby is watching his sisters trying to catch things in a local pond:
Here it's presented as completely normal for these two young girls to wade into a public pond with their skirts tucked into their knickers to catch fishes using a homemade net.
Thinking about the reality of doing this, all these millennial thoughts went through my head:
What about all the rubbish and broken glass in there? What about diseases in the water? Is it legal to catch fish at the park and take them home? Shouldn't they be wearing some special gear for that kind of activity?
Then I stopped and thought, What has happened to me? When I was 10, I swam in our town's brackish boating lake in my pants, regardless of swans. I dug my feet into the squishy sediment on the floor where the crabs I fished for nipped at my toes. Now, I was silently judging the images in this old fashioned baby book for not doing a health and safety assessment?
The concerns I felt for these fictional children were probably justifiable, but don't they illustrate a more sterilised way of living? A more sterilised way of thinking? Shouldn't I instead be focusing on the joy that kids get from splashing around and exploring this underwater world?
The summer is here now, and while I don't advocate climbing into public ponds in this way, searching rockpools and ponds with your eyes and a net or even a jar is a wonderous thing when you're a child.
Yes, be safe and yes be sensible, but if you get the chance, try to remember the wonder to be found when out in nature and try to pass that on to a child who could miss it without your guidance. You never know, you might even lose yourself in the moment.
Join our Wild Challenge this summer.
I don't have the words to say how much I agree with this excellent, accurate post. Many congratulations on your new parenthood, Maurice - your son sounds like he's in good hands!
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