Sunday, April 24, 2016

You might be shocked when you read this...

How do we teach our children (and ourselves!) not to be scared of the wild? I wrote another article for "Free Range Child" about this topic (I'm on a writing spree!), and this one created some controversy.

In the article, (read it here) I tell the story about our son Luke's solo overnighter in the woods when he was ten years old, equipped only with a sleeping bag (no tent), a fishing pole, a knife and no food.  Doing this was his idea, by the way.  I love the varied feedback I got from my readers - some admitting to being shocked when they read what we let our kids do, but then realizing how vitally important, yet rare, these kinds of rites of passage are.

I don't want to spoil the story by retelling it here, so I urge you to head on over to "Free Range Child" and read it there.

This week has been filled with excursions to our favorite wild creek, where we cooled off in 85 degree (!) weather.  A couple of our friends' kids joined us and watched with fascination as Steve made a friction fire with a bow drill (rubbing two sticks together), no matches and materials he gathered by the river.

Sausage roasting ensued.  It struck me that the food we prepared at the river was all homemade: sausages made from the meat of pigs we raised ourselves, cornbread made with eggs from our chickens and milk from our goats, and asparagus from the garden.

Can our lives get any more wholesome or what?  Now if we could just grow cacao beans for my chocolate addiction!!!

I did sneak a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream for the adults.  Ahem.

Although I love the wild and thrive when I spend time in nature, my husband Steve is the expert.  Whereas I'm the one teaching people homesteading skills, he's the one teaching wilderness survival skills: making fire by friction, building primitive shelter, tracking, hide tanning, bow making, archery, wild plant ID and more.

I love that he is such an amazing role model for many of us, but especially for boys.  The wilderness is in his blood - he grew up in Papua New Guinnea and has spent his formative years with tribal cultures.  He knows how important it is to let our boys push their edges in the wild, and I am grateful for it.

Boys are a little bit of a mystery to me.  I grew up with three sisters and no brothers, so I often check in with Steve to see if my sons' behavior is normal.  

"Really?  They like wrestling each other down to the ground so their head grinds into the sand? Huh."

"Why do they act like I'm asking them to clean out the goat barn when I request that they take a shower once a week?"

"Is it normal that they are constantly eating and acting like they're starving?"

My heart swelled watching my 6'4 gentle man wrestle with our boys and their friend at the creek.  My daughter Eva and I sat and watched, amazed that the boys enjoy being pinned underneath each other's arm pits, grateful that we don't have to do this.

Eva and I would rather curl up and read under the cherry tree, hang out in the garden and with our animals.


  1. I envy how you live. I think it is great that your children have these wonderful experiences. How lucky they are. We too live enjoying nature, growing our own food and raising animals. Our lifestyle is more rural and not nearly as wild but my favourite place to be is hiking in our woods. Raising children to appreciate nature is so important and I wish more parents allowed for those opportunities. Well done, Corina.

  2. I'm going to read your article but let me just say I am just as perplexed by male behavior as you are. For example, my husband loves watching mixed martial arts where grown men are pummeling, kicking, shoving, grappling in the most "intimate" and ferocious way. I would be embarrassed to engage in this activity not to mention terrified. I certainly wouldn't do it for sport. I'd do it in life or death situation. That's it. Then I'd probably die because I haven't been "practicing". I just have this intellectual understanding that they have the urge to do the things they do and so I stand back and watch in amazement. Thank the wisdom of the universe to make 2 sometimes opposing interests to create balance. (men's ways/women's ways).

  3. OK great article. I raised my daughter in the city. But we went out into the wild as often as we could. Dinosaur National Monument and other places and camped in a tent. I remember one night we hunkered in a partially built "shed" as a terrific thunderstorm raged around us. The tent had been blown to the next county. She has grown up to respect her edge and love the wild. It can be done even though one lives in the city. It's an attitude and a way of "seeing". I think what you're doing with your kids is important because it is a way that is on the endangered "ways" list. Try keeping it alive and flourishing.

    1. Arghhh, welcome in the club of mothers who are terrified when a thunderstorm rages around the tent they and their kids are sleeping in! Ha!

  4. Now let me chime in here as a male..... I never really was into this whole wrestling thing either. Still don't like it.
    Yes, I do like my showers. No, I hate it when things are messy. And no, I most certainly do not like cars in general. A small 4x4....yes.
    My son going camping on his own? Not even if I chased him out of the house with a loaded shotgun. My daughter? Sure she would!
    Are my son or I pussies? No, we just do not go with this whole male/female stereotype thing. Many do match the profile. That's where stereotypes come from, but many do not.
    The achievement your son made is a huge one and I admire boys like him a lot. They have a massive advantage on their peers. And you and people like you can really consider yourselves blessed to be able to live the way that you do.

    1. Yes! You bring up a good point, Ron. I hesitated a little bit before publishing this post, because it sounded sexist to me: males = messy and brave, females = tidy and timid. If you knew me you would know that I am as macho as they get, and way more aggressive than my husband. He is the gentle guy, I'm the pushy one. It's complicated, the whole stereotype thing, eh?

    2. Somehow I already had that idea..... Wonder why?? ;)

  5. My husband and daughter wrestle together. I'm the one usually yelling, "Someone is going to get hurt!" She is also the one who doesn't wear shoes like her dad. I once had a little girl who loved wearing dresses now it's ripped jeans and flannelette shirts, just like her dad......

    1. Good for her! Tom boy! I was a tom boy, and you couldn't get me to wear dresses for your life!


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