The Things We Used To Do

. . . are good for us, it seems. Like watering the garden.

When my daughter was a little girl, she loved being outside. One of the things I used to do while keeping her company was water the garden. She would be busy inspecting odd leaves and aiding wayward bugs while I was busy sweeping the water wand back and forth, back and forth, listening to the sound the drops of water made as they hit the different kinds of surfaces.

When Stephanie stopped amusing herself in the front yard, I stopped watering the garden. My husband coincidentally put in some soaker hoses around that time, so the garden didn’t really need me, but I realize now that I needed the garden. I’ve started watering it again, and it feels good. The sun feels good, the sound of the water is just as lovely as it ever was, and the fresh air is wonderful. Alright, sometimes it’s humid, but mostly it’s wonderful.

I’ve started to think about more things I used to do when my kid was little that I stopped doing when my kid got big:

  • riding my bike around the neighborhood. On the sidewalk. It’s less stressful that way.
  • making coffee-table centerpieces out of pine cones and branches found on neighborhood walks.
  • using art supplies such as pastels and felt.
  • squeezing drops of food coloring onto coffee filters and watching the crazy swirls.
  • making photocopies of book illustrations I like and then decorating them with colored pencils.
  • listening to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books on tape. No wait—I’ve never stopped doing that.

My point is simple: the things we used to do with our children never lost their validity or delightfulness.  If you can remember some cast-off diversions that gave you joy then, why not try them now?  The kinds of activities we pursue when we are full-heartedly intent on pleasing and enriching our children are most likely healthy, educational, and, most of all, fun. And people of every age need to be pleased and enriched. Most enjoyable activities are not rated G, PG, PG-13, and R. (And let’s not get into how I feel about the movie rating system.)

It’s a really hot day. I’ll bet the garden needs water again. Sweep, sweep, drop, drop, good.

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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Vicki said,

    Very beautiful and timely. =) I’ve been contemplating what I use to do and how can I get back to some of the fun stuff. Guess Niki got it right with ‘Just Do It’.

  2. 3

    Laura Weldon said,

    I never did color in photocopies of book illustrations. To this non-artist, that sounds wonderfully relaxing.

  3. 5

    Cristina said,

    Ahhh. I don’t know what I would do without a garden. It does re-energize me like nothing else. I just came in from weeding and pruning one area while my youngest tried desperately to keep a kite in the air. I guess she should have done that early today, the breeze has died down significantly.

    You are so right about not casting off our pleasures. I’ve been rediscovering a few of my own lately. :-)

    Peace and Laughter!

  4. 6

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  5. 7

    […] Gaissert presents The Things We Used To Do via The Expanding […]

  6. 8

    Angie said,

    Yes! Watering the garden is good for the soul. So is riding bikes around the block–at a snail’s pace, of course, so as not to lose the new biker. This post was refreshingly evocative. Thanks for sharing!

  7. 10

    Karen said,

    Susan, I am glad you are back in the blogging world! I’ve been spending time trying to figure out how to whistle using an acorn hat between the fingers, something I never could get as a kid but that still feels justifiable to try for as a grown-up; gets me outside, at the very least. Happy summer :-)

  8. 11

    Karen! Happy summer to you, too, my old blogging buddy. I agree that mastering a whistle is worthwhile at any age.


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