It’s been so cold this week in Western Pennsylvania, after a beautiful October of sunny, mild days. It’s a shock to feel so uncomfortable outdoors; the internal heater needs a good kick. The kids complain that their hands are cold. Their winter coats from last year are too tight, hats feel itchy. It’s all I can do to get them outside for 20 minutes, when a week ago they were out for hours.
Without a doubt, being outdoors eases the stress in our household. Bad moods evaporate, arguments crumble. Fall days, with an intense blue sky and brilliant red and orange leaves, are like magic. I caught my eldest teaching his younger brother how to pump his legs on the swing. No bossing, teasing or belittling. And the younger one listened! No whining, teasing or kicking. The smiles on their faces were gold. Now that we’re suddenly indoors a lot more, the tension is high. The TV is on too much, they aren’t getting as much exercise. What I would give for another day to run around without our coats on.
The good times between them seem to happen in small windows when the younger one catches up to the older one just enough to get what his big brother is doing, and the older one is feeling confident in himself and comfortable in his skin enough to reach down to his little brother without seeing it as being a baby himself. And then everything changes; one grows some more, the other changes, too, and they have to re-figure out how to deal with each other again. So it’s kinda like the seasons changing, right? It takes weeks of being outside in summer sun to build a tan, tolerate sweat and pull out the right summer wear from the storage boxes. We acclimate. We get used to the heat and the bugs, and grow callouses on our bare feet. For winter we have to do it all over again. Figure out games and projects that keep us moving so we stay warm. Buy new coats. Remember the things we like to do outside in winter and find new ones (I’m thinking about geocaching this year). And we’ll love being out there again.