BRAZIL: Cultural Criticism for Outdoor Play

BRAZIL: Cultural Criticism for Outdoor Play

Girl in Rain

If you happen to walk by my house around 6 a.m., you will most probably encounter me in my pajamas, a jacket and my hair on end, being pulled towards the street with surprising strength by my 15 month old son (who – unlike myself – will be looking quite adorable with his hair on end!). My three year old girl will be fast asleep for another half hour or so and, if it is a weekday, my nine year old and my husband will have already left for school/work .

If permitted, my toddler (and all three of my children, for that matter) would probably live outside 24/7. However, we are currently entering winter – a.k.a. the rainy season and also my least favorite time of the year.

Don’t take me wrong. If I could spend the day curled up in my warm bed reading, it might even be my favorite season! In practice, this is what happens:

First of all, no matter how many times the repairmen come to straighten up the roof, the cats will manage to part the tiles again, especially over our bed (think cold water dripping on your leg suddenly at 2 a.m.!). Also, fleeing the rain, huge ants make nests and leave their very succulent eggs in anything left untouched for more than three days, lest we wrap it in plastic. Plus, the floor is always humid, and everything sticks to it. Last but not least: it is so hard to get out of bed at 5 a.m. and so chilly!

Outside of the home, traffic becomes ten times worse than it already is, everyone is late for everything (and even if they aren’t, the rain will be an excuse for it). The streets fill up with water, cars stop functioning and trash floats.  The city is astonishingly unprepared for rain considering the fact that it has had to deal with the sort of weather for over four centuries.

And the kids still want to be outside all the time. Of course, that it great.  Kids should be outside, preferably in more natural environments, as much as possible.

Among other benefits, being outside fosters a healthy connection with nature and promotes environmentally responsible behavior in adulthood.

The other day the rain had stopped, and I took advantage of some moments of sun to go out front. I got the kids all prepared in jackets, pants and tennis shoes and thought we could take a relatively “unmessy”, dry walk on our unpaved dirt road (LOL!). Of course in a few minutes they were playing in a puddle. There was mud not only on their clothes, but in their hair, their face and most everywhere. I relaxed and surrendered to their joy.

Witnessing such joy is what gives me the strength – as a current frazzled mother of three – to endure the sometimes overwhelming amount of soaked shoes, mud-soiled clothes and dirt covered floors!

I also find it somewhat amusing how bothered people here in the tropics get when they see kids out in such weather. Especially nwhen I recall the period we lived in Quebec – during what was reportedly one of the toughest winters ever – and how, regardless, parents and children had fun outside in the snowy, below zero weather.

On that same mud-covered day, one woman turned her neck 180° as she drove by and gave me a stern look that said “They’re going to catch cold you irresponsible mother!”

A person working in a construction nearby advised me never ever to let them play in street puddles again because “animals die in the streets”. To top it, a neighbor (who at most has said “good morning” to us in the ten years we have lived here) stopped, announced formally that he is a Veterinary Doctor, and gave me a complete list of all maladies they could catch from that malignant puddle, including leptospirosis , bubonic plague, toxoplasmosis and several others. Of course it didn’t help when I tried to tell him that, despite being a biologist and knowing the risks, I also believed playing in puddles helped them boost their immune systems!

I know, deep down, everyone means well in their advice. Yet, I still prefer to follow the guidance of Mother Nature and allow my kids to be outdoors as much as possible, in any weather!

Do you encourage your kids to go out in all weather? What season are you in now?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ecoziva in Brazil.

 

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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