We talk about relationships and socialization all the time. Usually we are talking about relationships between people, socializing within a peer group etc. However for children it's important to establish a relationship with nature too. Planting a garden, caring for a pet. Becoming aware of your surroundings is one of the first steps a child takes as he matures becoming (hopefully) a bit less egocentric. Recently I wrote about the long time the kids took observing a blue bird's nest.
To be honest, I had to fight my instinct to tell the children to come back to our activity. I had to keep reminding myself that relationships cannot be rushed. I love the way children can arrive at the park and "make friends" immediately, but these relationships are circumstantial and fleeting. As an adult we interact constantly with others but these are not the relationships that hold our hearts.
As with people relationships, a relationship to nature takes time. We have to spend time together. We have to join in a give and take conversation. We plant and nature responds by bearing fruit for us. The bird sings and we respond with a smile or a song of our own.
After spending the day observing the nest, we found this:
This little guy had flown out of the nest and hid among the ivy. He couldn't fly high enough to make it over the bamboo fence. Because the kids had spent so much time viewing the nest, they felt responsible for this little guys well being. They discussed what would be best. They couldn't put him back in the nest because the nest was too high. They considered the neighborhood cat. The considered that he needed to use his wings so they would grow strong. In the end, they carefully lifted him out of the ivy and placed him in a nearby branch. They then kept an eye out for him through most of the day. They happily reported seeing him fly around the many trees in the yard and although he struggled for a little bit he soon found his "wings" and flew off.
I was so happy that I fought my instinct to guide the kids back to our activity. Had they found this little guy in the yard without having established a relationship with him through observation, I have no doubt they would have been just as kind to him. Having established a relationship however, made their kind act all the more rewarding.