One of my favourite quotes that is quite often written in beautiful calligraphy and hung up on nursery walls is ‘Let them be little, let them be wild’. I don’t want this to be something that I just frame for Darcie and put on the wall, I really want to make this a motto for how we raise our own little wild child. I want to raise Darcie to be free, to run wild, to finish the day with knots in her hair, dirt on her feet and a crazy sparkle in her eyes. I want to encourage her curiosity and I want every day to be an adventure. When I look back at my childhood I think of spending time outdoors, of exploring and of being creative. This is what I want for Darcie, I don’t want her to be glued to the television, finding all of her joy in CBeebies, I want her to be outside whatever the weather. I want us to go strawberry picking in the Summer and splashing in the puddles in the Winter. I want us to go on treasure hunts through the forest and shell collecting on the beach. I want her to feel free, to not be afraid of the world around her but to feel a part of it.
Most of my childhood memories are of being outside, we lived in a tiny village in a very rural part of Wales for the first five years of my life and I remember them as being very happy years. I would describe my childhood as being very free, having what felt like free reign of the Welsh countryside definitely formed a part of the person that I am today and I so badly want Darcie to grow up knowing that same freedom. We had a big garden which had a hill that we would ride our bikes down and there was a section of grass that was allowed to grow wild. We called it ‘the habitat’ and wild flowers would grow there and there would always be butterflies and bees buzzing around there. It seemed like a wild jungle to me at the time but I’m sure it reality it was nowhere near as huge and exciting as I remember it. We had a big area for growing raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants which we would pick and the ones we didn’t scoff straight away my Mum would turn into redcurrant pies or we would have strawberries with a sprinkle of sugar after our tea. There was one particular time that my sister tried to feed me a less than edible type of berry but look, I survived! The garden backed onto a farmers field where he kept sheep, they once escaped and came stampeding into our garden where I was sitting doing a jigsaw puzzle. Again, I survived!
We would spend our days paddling in streams and playing at the park. My playgroup was in a caravan and I have hazy memories of playing with glitter and cutting off my hair and putting it in my book bag to ‘hide’ from my almost certainly horrified Mother. As we got older I remember our family holidays, sheltering from the rain under a rubber dinghy in Devon, camping in France, hiking in Switzerland. I have no childhood memories of watching the telly, that’s not to say that we never did, but it was never a feature of our days. I don’t remember movie marathons or regular shows we would watch. Again, that’s not to say that we never stayed inside watching telly, my memory is terrible, but the point is that I don’t think that’s what children remember. And so, I want to fill Darcie’s days with the good stuff, the adventures and the discoveries, the same way that my childhood was full of them. I want to encourage her love of books too, so her imagination can grow as she does.
If she wants to play in the river or splash in the muddy puddles then I’m going to let her. There will be plenty of time for her to be clean and tidy later on in her life. If she wants to wear odd socks and bright ribbons in her hair then I’m going to encourage her, she’ll be in a uniform by the time she goes to school, so let’s make the most of this time where she doesn’t have to conform. She’s a child, she doesn’t need to make a good impression or sit quietly so as to not disturb the peace. This is her time to run wild, to be free and I’m going to do everything in my power to give her this childhood.