We've had a few pine cones sitting on our nature shelf since last summer but they've been examined so many times over the last six months that they no longer hold the same magic and mainly spend their days collecting dust, so when Amaya asked if we could make some bird feeders, I greedily obliged. As an adult, I still think smearing peanut butter all over something then dipping it in a bowl full of bird seed is the bees knees. We prepared the table with wax paper, a bowl of seeds, jar of peanut butter, some string and I made the commitment to myself that if the mess was anything less than the entire bowl of bird seed being accidentally knocked onto the floor, clean up would be a cinch.
Guide to Giving Back to Nature
We keep a few large mason jars of bird seed in our pantry for throughout the year to feed to the birds and as the kids crafted, I realized I didn't know what all the different seeds in this mix were, so I grabbed one of our top five favorite books to read to the kids while they dropped globs of peanut butter onto the table, chairs and floor.
Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature.
He is the ultimate lovable character and makes you want to live in a small cottage in the woods while saving all the animals and plants in the world. It's a whimsically dressed guide to saving nature with tips and directions, facts, instructions and suggestions of behavior, and just so happened to have a list of birds and the seeds they eat. I also grabbed our Minnesota Birds guide to learn more about the birds we would be attracting. Our millet, thistle and safflower seeds would hopefully bring chickadees, sparrows, finches and cardinals to our windows.
It's habitual for me because it feels so much easier to do all the steps of something myself, here, I'll cut the string and tie the knots and hang them and you can do that last easy part because it's uncomplicated and quick, but to take a step back and surrender your time and speed and quality and say
here are the scissors, I trust you, how much string should we use? Where should we hang them? Wow, that's perfect , I'm so glad you tried that
as they experience the creating for themselves, giving them importance and value and letting them learn that they are capable, is so important for you and them.
It builds trust in both directions.
Letting go of your expectations of how something would work best gives space to experience what truly is perfect, and isn't that the joy on their faces, the squeals of excitement and curiosity? Their comfort in knowing you are a safe place for their learning and exploring of the world? That they are loved and encouraged even if they don't do things the best or quickly and them just being is enough?
The mess isn't important. I'd spill that whole darn bowl of seeds onto the floor to make them this happy and excited about learning what life is made of.
Kids Teaching Parents
(when parents think they are the ones teaching)
We read all about the birds in Minnesota, talking a bit more about the ones we remember seeing last year and how we can attract certain species we haven't yet seen in our yard. These are the best school lessons, where they take in so much because they are inspired, passionate and can apply what they are learning, bringing life to what we read and created and it becomes just life rather than school.
The kids finished dipping their cones in the seed and I snapped a few last pictures before bringing them outside to hang the bird feeders and my camera suddenly malfunctioned and stopped working. I quickly hopped on to my laptop to google what the heck an error 20 was and how do I quickly fix it so I can capture them hanging their crafts they worked so hard and happily on, when Amaya said kindly but with a fair amount of zest,
"Mom, think about what's really important here. Do we need pictures of us hanging bird feeders or do we need to bring these outside and feed all those hungry birds that decided to stay in Minnesota where it's cold and there's no food and they're probably starving! Think about it mom, what do you think is more important?"
The room went silent and I heard her mic drop.
Camera down. I placed my head and hands on the floor as I bowed down to her and kissed her feet in admiration.
Okay maybe not really, but that's how it felt in my head.
I closed my laptop and we went to save all those Minnesotan starving birds.