09 Feb The Silent Cycle of Bones and Branches
I believe one of the most powerful lessons a kid can learn is that all aspects of life have cycles.
Seeing and experiencing life cycles (not the kind in your local gym!) by looking at the natural world can lead to a deeper understanding of the body’s cycles.
By sharing with a child the experience of a changing world that moves, lives and grows outside of themselves, we can help our kids see the cycles of their own bodies. We are cyclical beings. Our cycles include the movement of a fever, menstrual cycles, moods, growth, healing, digestion and elimination.
When kids see cycles outside themselves and we reflect back to them that they have cycles too, it makes them comfortable with the ebb and flow.
Even viruses and bacteria have life cycles, which play out in our bodies as symptoms.
Connecting kids to the changing environment where they live is one of the easiest ways to help your child see cycles.
And I have a simple way to do it: by being in nature.
Here’s what you can do: Take your kid to the same place each season each year. It could be just your backyard, grandma’s farm or the beach. Many families only go to the shore when it’s warm. Take them when it’s raining in the spring and when it’s barren in fall. Even the zoo will change with the seasons: babies in spring, bears hidden and hibernating in the winter.
This fall one of my family’s favorite beaches was littered with dead birds. We’d never seen this before. Seabirds — in this case, murres — normally feed off fish that swim near the surface. The water was warmer this year and the fish were deep in the cold ocean. The birds did not have much to eat and so they went hungry. Clearly, walking along the beach seeing this is more impactful than reading about the warming of the oceans.
The bigger picture of nature and cycles is best experienced viscerally.
It was sad and shocking to see so many dead murres. We felt helpless in the face of systems beyond our control. My kids realized how everything is connected to everything else with this weekend beach walk. It was far more powerful than a lecture from mom!
Trees, unlike birds, come back to life in spring and summer. Actually, the tree itself continues its life even when its leaves die off. There is something simple yet profound about seeing the very same tree with green leaves, with brown ones and then without. The tree outside of your kitchen window shows the cycles of life. Simply point out its changes to your child.
Noticing cycles lets us relax into them and have less of a need to control and manipulate them. Nature has a rhythm and we are a part of nature. Your foray into the natural world informs a child that they too live through cycles (a microcosm of the macrocosm).
It makes sense as children grow that their awareness will expand. Creating the expectation that their bodies cycle just like the seasons helps them see their body’s continual shifts and changes.
Life is lived in hourly, daily, monthly and longer cycles.
Paying attention to the body allows all of us to accept and watch a cycle move without feeling the need to control it. How can one control winter or the migration of birds? We cannot. In the same way, we can’t control what our body is doing with the food inside it. Or how fast our bones heal. This doesn’t make us helpless, it keeps us present and aware of change.
Next time your kid feels physically or emotionally crappy, you can assure them that it’s temporary. Balance will return. And it’s normal. It’s not a permanent state but a part of life. One of many overlapping, interlocking cycles we live through. Nature doesn’t grieve when the leaves dry and fall off the trees, she just rests in winter and prepares for spring growth.
As revolutionary, evolutionary parents we can hold the space that our kids’ bodies are healthy and normal as they travel through their own seasons.
What’s your favorite place to visit and watch the cycles of nature? Comment below — I love to hear from my people!
Want to know my story? Check out the About section to learn more about the education and life experiences that inspired me to start a health revolution.