The end of the summer holidays has been and gone and our children are heading back to the classrooms. In my distant memory of my own summer holidays as a child, I remember sunny days playing out with friends, camping holidays and paddling in streams. July and August, as I remember, were warm, sometimes hot months, where sun cream and ice cream were regular features.
The summer holidays that have just ended have been less ‘sunny’ that’s for sure, but I don’t think we’ve had any less fun! We’ve still eaten too many ice creams, donned our raincoats instead of sun cream, and done most of the things we would have done, had the days been full of glorious sunshine.
In her latest blog Jude talks about our children and the sunny lives we wish for them to have. How protecting them from things that might hurt them is so important to us as parents, but often growing and learning comes from experiences where we have had to step out of our comfort zone and face situations that feel less familiar. I guess we all need a bit of rain, sometimes….
Sarah, Scheme Manager
Persistently, deliciously, soakingly, life-givingly raining.
That’s not what we say to each other at the school gate mind you…
“What a miserable day,” we groan, “so much for summer,” and we raise our eyes heavenwards as though something dark and depressing has happened.
Water is falling from the sky!
Water that gives life to our plants, trees and crops. Water that allows our rivers to flow, our ponds and lakes to fill up. Water that makes our food grow and our gardens and parks enjoyable to be in.
We want it to be sunny all the time, whilst enjoying the things that are only possible with rain. That’s not how life is.
The only people not to complain, of course, are the gardeners. They love rain – they know its life-giving properties, they can already see the burst of growth that’s going to come tomorrow or the next day. They can already taste their sun-drenched and rain-swollen courgettes, squashes and tomatoes, ripe and luscious at harvest time.
As parents, sometimes the only thing we want for our children is for them to be happy. But that’s like wishing for sunny weather all the time. Life comes with rain – and without the rain, life is poorer.
Somehow we have to learn to accept – possibly even embrace – the hurts that will inevitably come in our children’s lives. The moments of bullying, disappointment, peer pressure, fear. I’m sure it’s harder to see these things happening to our children than to deal with them in our own lives. But trying to shield our children from them, or withdrawing them to a life where things are sunny all the time, will mean they miss extraordinary learning opportunities.
When they are tiny, we teach them to put on their wellies and waterproofs. As they grow, we help them learn resilience – how to stand up against a bully, or to walk away from peer pressure, even though it makes them feel they might never have friends again. Later still, we watch as they make their own decisions, and hope we have the chance to reflect with them on how it went. Perhaps we tell them about our own rainy days – mistakes we made and how we learnt from them – hurts we experienced that felt like they might never go away – but they have.
So provide your kids with umbrellas today, give them waterproofs and wellington boots if need be, but don’t make them stay in, out of the rain.