This is my friends youngest daughter.
Yes, she’s covered in mud. And this was after a quick wash off in the sea at Penarth.
Who would stop a child having a brilliant play experience, just because of some mud.
Her mum could see how much fun she was having, and knew that a good bath and the washing machine would be waiting at home….. (the t-shirt didn’t make it!).
The funniest part, however, was walking through the crowds of people on the way back to the car. It was amusing to watch the mixture of laughter, smiles and confusion on peoples faces. But, sadly, some people were disgusted at the sight of a very muddy child. I’m not exaggerating when I say that some of the faces were truly horrified, and even commented as much when we walked past.
Was it that wrong? Our children were outside and playing together, and all had fun. We could hear them laughing and, as a parent, it was a joy to watch such natural and extremely messy play.
Back at home, my daughter couldn’t understand how people could be so judgemental. We spoke about it, concluding that it was their problem and not ours. I asked her if she’d had fun and enjoyed herself. When she replied with a quick yes, I said that’s all that matters.
A muddy child isn’t something to be scorned.
Some adults go to very expensive health spas to be plastered in mud, in an attempt to make themselves feel good……
……our children had the treatment for free!
Recently, my daughter and I had a wonderful Sunday morning taking part in a Stand Up Paddleboard session with a wonderful project called Girls Together.
This is a brilliant project that aims to provide the women and girls of Cardiff with a variety of locally-based activities, where they can be supported, tutored and aim to increase their physical activity uptake. Girls Together have put on a wide variety of outdoor and sporting activities such as running clubs, Zumba classes, boxing sessions, parent and child yoga, netball and dance classes, to name just a few.
My daughter loves Stand Up Paddleboarding, so she jumped at the chance to have a lesson and improve upon her skills.
The session was for 2 hours, and she learnt how to improve her paddling while on the board, be more comfortable moving about, and get better strokes while on the move. Her favourite part was playing lots of board-based games, that ended up with her falling in the water and getting soaked!
It was lovely to she her mixing with the other women and girls and, I must say, the atmosphere was amazing. It was a very happy and inviting activity, with all ages getting along and learning from each other.
After practice in the flat water area, the group then had half an hour travelling along the River Ely into Cardiff Bay, using their new-found skills and enjoying the beautiful weather, which was very kind to the group all morning!
It was such a positive experience, and it was brilliant to be involved with a project that promotes such fun, exciting activities and experiences to the women and girls in Cardiff.
We discovered a new outdoor activity for my daughter. I hope she goes on to improve her skills, and that we can share new adventures together.
Bank holidays can mean traffic jams, lots of stressful travelling and rushing around trying to make the most of an extra day off work.
Not for us today….
We stayed close to home, ditched the car and used what was on our doorstep.
Cycling on the Welsh Coastal Path through Penarth and around Cardiff Bay we enjoyed the lovely sunshine until the last 15 minutes when the heavens opened and we ended up getting completely soaked through!
Looking at this photograph you would never have guessed how wet we were going to end up.
However it was well worth the soaking as we didn’t have to get in the car and really enjoy an afternoon out right on our doorstep.
One of the many reasons why I love living in Wales.
We had a rare sunny day recently, so we didn’t waste the opportunity of getting outside, and the children loved being able to take their coats off and play. With the sun on our faces we didn’t feel the slight cold in the air and enjoyed being outside without having to wear lots of layers of clothing.
It may not the best quality, or a posed shot but watching my daughter and her cousins use a fallen down tree across a stream a place to play, to push their boundaries and explore their risk was so special and I’m happy I was a part of it.
It didn’t cost any money or have an adult telling them what to do, it just took imagination, confidence and the element of fun!
The joy of being a child and the happiness of natural play.
This is my daughter, kayaking for the first time on fast moving water.
I was an absolute bag of nerves watching her but, at the same time, I felt so proud at seeing her paddling and not letting her fear get the better of her.
This picture makes her look so scared, but she still carried on paddling through, and went on for another hour!
At the moment, I’m providing a lovely Family Engagement project at two local primary schools in Cardiff. The aim of the project is to encourage parents and children to come together after school, and have an opportunity to play and be creative together.
We’ve a had a few weeks together now and, as I get to know the group, I always like the idea of introducing a fire-building activity. It’s a great way of teaching the children about fire safety and the correct way of working with fire. It also shows the parents that a little bit of risk is a good thing and, actually, children are really good at recognizing and managing risk during play.
My fire-building activity is run over two sessions, the first being an introduction to fire. We talk about risks, how to use fire and be around fire safely. We look at the equipment and talk about how we use it, and this gives me an idea on how the children react around the subject. It’s good for me to know that I can trust the group; if I am in any doubt about safety issues, I’ll leave the actual fire building session to a later date or, with some groups, perhaps fires may not the best or safest activity for them.
So, sitting in the classroom, we spoke about using a flint and steel to get the fire going. I demonstrate the process and, at the start, you do see the fear in some children’s eyes, as they’ve been told to never play with fire because it’s dangerous. Of course, it is when used in the wrong way, but with correct teaching comes respect, and it stops becoming the scary forbidden thing that children are often warned about.
We then move outside to the open playground. Here, the children make a little table of sticks and a ball of cotton wool is placed on top. The children then get to have a go at lighting the cotton wool in a safe and controlled environment. We always have a bowl of water at the side, (just in case), and the children take it in turns to strike the spark, so that they learn to wait and to observe the rules of our fire session.
Luckily, I’ve never had any child go out of control, or act dangerously with this activity. They really understand how to behave around the fire, and always use the equipment correctly. It’s lovely to watch and to be a part of this discovery process.
I believe that, sadly, in the society that we currently live in, we can wrap our children up in cotton wool in an attempt to shield them from too many potential hazards and risks. Many of these things were simply play experiences to me and my peers and, as children we were allowed to explore, discover and evaluate the safest way to avoid risks in play.
The current trend seems to almost promote “safe, indoor, computerised” activities, by telling children not to climb the tree in case you fall and break your leg, don’t play outside when its rainy because you’ll get a cold, and don’t jump in the puddle as you’ll ruin your shoes. As parents, I think we’ve all said these things to our children at some time or another, but didn’t we do all of these things when we were kids, and didn’t love it.
I think that a little bit of risky play works well in a safe environment and the children know that if they act responsibly, behave well and enjoy the session, the following week they get to enjoy a huge mug of hot chocolate and toast marshmallows on the fire that they helped to make!
I’m so lucky that my daughter gets to come with me on my Forest Schools sessions.
It’s the perfect place for her to be.
Here she is enjoying a toasted marshmallow squashed between two chocolate biscuits.
What else would you do when you have a lovely open outdoor camp fire!
This was the first photograph that I shared on my blog in November 2013.
Below is a photograph that I took recently, and wanted to share with you for this week’s Sunday Photo. The very muddy and very wet shoes might have changed over the years, but she still enjoys splashing around in streams and jumping in mud. For me, it shows that my daughter still has her adventurous and wild outlook on life, and that makes me so happy.
(Thank goodness for washing machines!)
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