One of the biggest surprises on the trip was how much Eleanor loves being in nature. Granted, she's always loved rocks. Playing with them, eating them, sitting in them, throwing them, putting them in her purse and carrying them around ... you get the idea.
But now I'm talking about down and dirty nature. The lake was just a short walk from our campsite. The first day we were there, Keith and Eleanor walked down to the lake and saw several boys catching salamanders and putting them in a pail. (Only to release them and do it all again.) They asked Eleanor if she wanted to hold one.
She said, "Yeah!," stuck her hand in the pail, and grabbed one by the tail. Keith stood there with his mouth open as the first salamander wriggled away and she stuck her hand back in the pail. Then yesterday, she picked up a worm. A worm! With no fear.
Not squeamish, this one! Nature's slime and gore doesn't scare her. I couldn't be more proud! I hate that I, like the rest of society, fall into stereotyping. Because Eleanor likes to wear dresses, play dress-up, carry a purse, and read, I guess I assumed she'd think slimy things were icky. I'm so glad that she's proved me wrong.
I hope that she is showing us all what individuality the next generation of women will be capable of. I know many mothers who try too hard to avoid "typical" girly things like dolls and pink and frills. But I think that it also has a place in a little girl's childhood, as long as it's not foisted upon her.
Eleanor can wear her pink dresses, have a tea party .... and then run outside to play with rocks, build a fort, and catch worms. Just like she should be able to wear a dress to work, choose her folders because they're pretty .... and be an incredibly competent, successful worker and leader.
Every morning, we went to the lake so that she could sing "Good morning, salamanders!" to wake them up. And every night, at bedtime, we went back down so that she could sing them to sleep and assure them she would be back the next morning. She is such an amazing, caring, observant little person. We had a wonderful time on vacation with her, getting to know her emerging personality. It means so much to me to have the opportunity to show her new places, and to help her realize that she has something to learn and to offer, wherever we might be.