My backyard is not Pinterest perfect. I have a 30+ foot hole that takes up half the yard. When we first moved in there was a doughboy pool that had been sunk 3 feet below ground. We had to take it down for safety reasons. The plan was to fill in the massive hole and put in our garden. That was three years ago…
I would compare “The Pit” (as the kids have named it) to the yard of the neighbor on Toy Story. Yeah, the psychotic little boy Sid who likes to blow stuff up, that is what my back yard looks like most of the time. I am not going to lie, The Pit is where toys go to die. It is not something I am proud of, and dream of one day having something closer to home and garden magazine. It seems to be a Mecca for all of our friends, though.
As I mentioned last week in The Magic of Mud Therapy, we have finally had our first rain storm of the season. My friends up in the Pacific North West would probably laugh that I would call it a “storm”, but it has lasted for three days and has made enough mud to make a mess. Squishy has been in absolute heaven.
I have mixed feelings about The Pit. It’s ugly, it really is a giant hole in my backyard, and children usually don’t think twice about muddy feet on my just mopped wood floors. BUT it is has provided Squishy with a full childhood. A real childhood; one of pretend, construction, muck, and excitement that he has created all on his own.
The Radio Flyer ramp was brought into the pit by the kids when the clouds released a massive down poor on Friday. They situated it just so, with the bottom dropping them into the deepest puddle. After their maneuvering was completed, there was always a line at the ramp. They even figured out other vehicles that would work on the ramp. Adult intervention is minimal in The Pit, mostly just when a fight is breaking out. The ingenuity that happens when all “adult think” is taken out of the equation is mind-blowing.
Squish will spend hours out there. He is perfectly happy digging holes or inventing some do-dad. He will dig for worms, search for toads or build a river. I was joking with my husband today, that he only needs 8 hours a day covered in mud to get his sensory needs met.
I leave out lots of loose parts for Squishy and his friends to use in their construction play. I’ll say it again, it does not look like anything I have seen on Pinterest. I often marvel how people can keep their mud and dirt areas so tidy. (Seriously if anyone wants to give me tips on this!) I just have everything thrown in big tubs lining the pit, but more often than not it is strewn around in various half complete projects.
- bits of an old hose
- old pool filter parts
- buckets and shovels
- two by fours in an assortment of lengths
- dollar baking pans
- old kitchen tools
- whatever else gets dragged out there
It is all transformed in imaginative play.
With the last spurt of rain wet our faces today, Squishy decided he wanted to “dig a hole to China”. Well, that led to a short discussion about where exactly China is, and how long he thought that would take. He then switched gears (because apparently days and days was too long) and excitedly started construction on his “underground tunnel under a stable bridge”.
When Squishy said he wanted to dig a hole to China, I was flooded with memories of my own childhood. My little brother, my cousins and I had an entire underground tunnel system built in the backyard of my childhood home. My mom would kick us out to “go play”. We were never bored as long as we had wood, dirt and shovels.
The pit is providing that childhood freedom to Squish. I haven’t reinvented the wheel. I have just followed his lead and not allowed the mess to drive me insane. Yet. It is the one thing in this parenting journey that I know I am doing right.