A Rural Classroom

I have found that while reading any kind of magazine about parenting (or anything for that matter) the articles are geared toward people who live in, or near, a city. They will give suggestions to go a museum, to the shopping mall or even a bus stop as a place to teach some wonderful lesson. I read these lists and wistfully imagine myself as mom in an urban area. I would wear flowing skirts and have one of those purses that slings to the side so I could easily negotiate my bike, a stroller and a child's bike while we leisurely visit the museum and the zoo in one day.
Alas, I am not a city mom. I am a somewhat frumpy, country mom and my list of things to do with my children include hiking, swimming at the river and possibly going to the beach (if it's worth it to me to dig sand out of diapers). I drive everywhere and, to be honest, I don't think my children have ever been to a museum let alone a bus stop. However, after giving this some thought, I don't think my children are lacking in exposure or knowledge. It's just different. It even surprises me that they are learning quite a lot.
Our trips to the river, the beach and on trails have been, and I'm amazed to say, a time of growth for my girls. Physically, my oldest is getting to be a stronger, more brave, swimmer and my toddler has been getting quite good at negotiating trails with sticks and rocks by herself. They are also learning a lot about the ecology of our area. At the river we investigate snails and little fish and on the trails we have discovered berries, birds and wildflowers. Of course, the ocean is full of the wonder of God's creation from a broken crab shell to the way sand packs together when wet to make a great sandcastle.
In my opinion, however, the most important lessons my girls are learning are lessons of endurance in a tough terrain. At the beginning of the summer the tiniest cut would stop my girls in their tracks and we could not move on until a band aide was administered. But having to survive an hour long hike with a sore heel, or walking along the river on sharp rocks with out shoes has become second nature. I'm confident that if my girls can survive the lessons of rural rigor, they will survive school and even college one day. And just think what a treat going to a museum will be!

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