Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Inheritance

A few weekends ago the weather was gorgeous.  As in, "take everything you ever heard about Dutch weather and shove it"--blue skies, with a temperature that could best be described as "invigorating".  I.e., it was time to wandelen.

Only this time, I was bringing Kidlet.  Not a big deal--we go out literally every morning, sometimes by bike, sometimes on foot, for at least two hours. Sometimes we go to town, sometimes we go to the country, and sometimes we stay in the neighborhood.  I must confess that it's not entirely because I like going places with Kidlet--a good part of it is because, if he's outside our apartment, he's not making a mess inside.  

So it was splendid.  We went out on the Ooijpolder and dodged cow turds and stinging nettles, and somehow ended up on the bank of the Waal, where we stayed for a while and watched the barges motoring up and down the river.  They kicked up enough of a wake that waves broke on the shore, and Kidlet, almost magically, knew how to play wave-tag.

I'm not naive enough to believe that the Ooijpolder will remain unspoiled and wild forever.  Even if the uitwater is maintained as a floodplain, well, floodplains flood.  There was a time a few years ago where the part we were walkng on this past weekend was under at least 1 meter of water.  And if what they say about global warming is true, then kidlet won't have that many more trips to that country ahead of him. I can hope that it will remain this lovely for another few lifetimes, and I do.  But more than  having the land, I want Kidlet to have that sense of adventure, the excitement of turning the corner and not knowing what you're going to find.

At his age, of course, everything is an adventure.  Going to the supermarket?  Why, we might wander down the soup aisle this time!  But I don't want it to get squashed in the rigamarole of daily life.  When he starts going to peuterspeelzaal (pre-preschool) he's going to be told to sit here, stand there, play now, etc--and it won't get any better as he gets older.  And that's the flip side of living here--you don't get kudos for bucking the norm.

So this weekend, when Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten arrive in Nijmegen, I'll let him go (I've got work--though to be completely honest I'm not a Piet fan, either).  When the letter from the consultatiebureau arrives, I'll make an appointment as it tells me to, and he will get his shots, as he's supposed to.  But in the meantime, you can bet that I'll be taking him deep into the heart of every forest we've got, letting him pick up sticks and handle leaves and throw rocks off of bridges and pet horses.  Thinking for yourself, creating your own adventure--that's something few people know how to do these days.  That's something I want him to have when he's grown.  

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