Thursday, April 1, 2010

Flyin' Free

If there's one thing I know for certain, it's my kids love to be free. This week is Spring Break and the last thing they want is any kind of structure or control. On some level, allowing them total freedom makes me feel like I'm lazy or depriving them of something greater than homespun childhood adventure, but honestly, is there anything greater? Yesterday, the three oldest spent the day with a handful of cousins out at the farm--the boys running shirtless along the wooded paths like their own little Calleva Lord of the Flies, while the girls readied the campsite at the edge of the Enchanted Forest. By late afternoon, Nick was home and telling me he left them there since they were having the time of their lives.

An hour after that, I got the phone call I had been expecting. It was Niki saying the kids were begging to stay and camp and it was fine by her. They had built a fort, had a fire going and had scrounged enough blankets and bags to survive the night. She and Alex had a party they had to go to, but felt fine leaving Nicholas and Isabel to "man the fort" if you will. Going against every Miller gene I possess, I consented, knowing that eight little kids, soloing it in the 180-acre-wood, could surely survive the night, right? Nick, reassuring as ever, said something like, "Gimme a break, Jen I was camping down by the lake alone at seven; they're fine!" I'd like to say that did the trick, but imagining seven freezing kids trekking to the house about 3 am leaving a sleeping Mitchell behind in the deep dark, kept my sleep a titch fretful. But alas, the sun did rise and they did sleep under the stars sans grown-ups, and believe it or not, lived to report.

Tonight's dinner went something like..

Nicholas: I'm pretty hungry. Last night we decided to eat only things we could find in the woods.

Mom: Hmm. Really? What can you find in the woods, anyway?

Nicholas: Oh, I boiled water from the spigot and we all found as many herbs as we could then I found noodles. Then basically we made soup out of wild onions. It was a chive soup.

Mom: Chive soup? Whoa..was it good?

Nicholas: Uhh..not bad. The tea we made the next morning was better..from the herbs.

Mom: That's pretty cool you did that. Did everyone stay out the whole night?

Nicholas: Not George (age 3) he had like hay and insulation stuff stuck all over him so he went in.

Mom: Oh, that's good!

Nicholas: It was freezing, Mom. I mean, I almost died! But I kept the fire going the whole night long. It never went out. I just laid there trying to get warm and watched the moon move across the whole sky. Then, since I was awake, I climbed to the top of the barn and watched the sun rise.

This sweet exchange made me wonder if I should have been there to snap pictures of the fort and the boiling brew and to video the little scamps foraging for wild onions, but the thought of my boy crouched in the pink light of morning, pensive and proud, reminded me that some observations of innocence are best left unseen.


Ann Marie said...

Oh the innocenc of children!
I love it!

I am a lot like you.. maybe all of us as mothers are like that.. The " what if " plays through our mind constantly.. because we know if something DOES happen.. we will blame ourselves over it forever...but our children DO need to be free sometimes.. and experience the little things we all got to as children. We had lots of fun in endless fields for imagining and exploring... and with children nowadays, some don't even have yards to play in or explore. Such a then they only get to know what a TV/gaming looks like.. rather than the adventures that they could experience themselves..

Your children are so LUCKY to have all of those woods by your house!! So lucky!!

Sounds like your little guy will be a self sufficiant person. His way of "taking care and providing for the camp" are just to cute.. and then to hear that he stopped to take note of the sunrise and etc.. shows that he has been taught by good parents to appreciate the beauties all around him!

Super cute post. Makes me want to come and camp in your woods too.
Can I hire one of your children to keep the snakes away? lol!

Hope you have a great weekend Jen! XO

Jayne Layne said...

That was so cute! it makes me so proud of Nicholas and that completely sounds like something that should be in a book. He will remember for that forever. I loved that he watched the moon and followed it up with the sunset. I am happy he thought to do that.

What a bunch of cute little kids. So happy they are realy kids and not electronic kids :)

Jek said...

Loved that story even better written! Jenn you should be a writer! I can just picture the whole night. They are such cute kids. I really couldn't believe that did that. Actually who the heck am I kidding?? Yes I can believe it. What a great childhood, and I am glad that my kids get to be a part of it!

Jek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Every time I see Will and Dylan headed to our "forest" with their hammers and saws to work on the tree house, I think of summers in Springville playing in the field, up the back yard tree or wading in Hobble Creek. This adventure of your children was a beautiful snippet of life on the east coast. Life can be crazy sometimes for us grownups. Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding me to keep watching children grow and evolve. Love, Aunt Nancy

Anonymous said...

That just sounds like so much fun and adventure. I am sure my boys would have loved to have been there. Don't tell them what they missed they will be so sad. I also agree with the writing part you are very good. I could picture the whole thing. Loves Kel

Mitch said...

That totally sounds like me when i was his age........siiiiiiiiiiiike. Maybe at certain parts of my life. Give nicholas a pat on the head for me. Tell him he's finally won my approval as an uncle. He's now a man. And if you could, have him give me a call. I'd really like to get started on this being a man business.

Kimmie said...

Aren't "trail-a-bikes" the most awesome invention ever! Love the the top photo of your kiddies riding their bikes.

I really think you should live your dream and write children's books. Your talent for writing is second to none!

I love you and your little family and I see your family photo every day now that I finally got my old window display finished.

It makes me sad that my kids are missing out on SO many adventures that we had when we were little growing up.

How lucky that your kids got to enjoy a night "sans parents" and feel "free" for a night! It sounds like Nicholas did awesome at taking care of everyone. I have the happiest image in my mind thinking how cute it would have been to see him climb on top of the barn and watch the sunrise.

It's sound like they were "Huck and Finn" for a night.

Hope things are going well with your hectic life and I hope the production you have been in charge of is coming together and turning out a success.

Miss you and I just love your outlook on life and thanks for making me SMILE this afternoon with your sweet and clever post.