There is a lush green park in front of my house, and this is a rarity in the jungle. The jungle isn’t known for its grass, its known for ….jungle. The town has to send people to mow the park every 10 minutes to avoid the jungle reclaiming it. This is awesome because we’re pretty much the only ones that use it, there aren’t many folks up here on the volcano, so its like having our own grounds crew
I’ve always feared the perimeter of the park, where babies are concerned. It goes straight from grass to jungle with only a flimsy, often bent, wire fence in between. There are wild pigs and boars in this jungle the size of Clydesdales. Trust me, I’ve seen em. For the last 3 months, pretty much since the day they started walking, I’ve been frantically pulling them away the the edge of the park and bringing them back to the center. Repeatedly.
Recently, I wised up. I said go for it, kiddos. I stayed near, but let them play at the boundaries. They don’t try to escape into the jungle, they just like to pet it. There are huge leaves, leaves almost as big as them, to be stroked and yanked up, and dragged around. I asked a local the name of one of these ubiquitous big leaves and he said “We call them Big Leaf.” Aptly named! There are bright tropical flowers to be whiffed and plucked. There are broken bamboo sticks the width of my arm to be chewed on (just like my arm!) and waved around. There is dark jungle earth to dig in. Recently I noticed Lulu chewing on something that did not resemble bamboo or other foliage. I seized it from her and found, to my horror, it was a bone. A little bone, fully intact. She dug it up herself and chomped right down. Repulsive? A bit. But more interesting than anything you’d find at the playground! What’s also interesting is that this was the second time she dug up that bone. She had done it the previous day, and my husband re-buried it. The little bloodhound doggone dug it up again. Don’t tell me my kids aren’t talented! What, your children speak 3 languages? Well can they dig and re-dig the bones of wild jungle animals? Yea, that’s what I thought. The bone thing did totally gross me out though. Jungledad said “relax, its just a rabbit bone” to which I replied- THERE ARE NO RABBITS ON THIS ISLAND! Now I think it must have been a mongoose bone, which I think is better than a rabbit bone because mongooses are fiendishly clever what with their stealing of birds eggs and killing of snakes. There aren’t any snakes on this island either, but if there were, the mongooses could totally take them. Then the boars would eat the mongooses, and then Lulu would fight the boars for the bones. That’s the circle of life people; it’s beautiful.
Okay, I think I got way off track, but I had a lot of fun doing it! My point, if I ever had one, was that in my over-protectiveness I completely missed the big picture, or big leaf, as the case my be. My goal for having them play outdoors is for them to have fun learning about the world around them, and the world around them lies in the boundaries, not in the middle where there’s nothing but grass. Lesson learned. I think they’re teaching me as much as I’m teaching them. Maybe more.