Monday, May 23, 2011

sticks and stones


When North was born I swore I wouldn't pigeon-hole him into a gender sterotype. That he would have dolls as well as trains, aprons as well as balls, a pram as well as a big dig. Two-and-a-half years later, he has all of these things and he still seems to naturally gravitate to wheels and balls.

But he is most passionate about sticks and stones.

I must admit, I am one of those Mums that lets her child freely play and roam with varying sizes of sticks in hand. The reason I feel so confident letting him play with them is because I watch him like a hawk and I know he would never use a stick as a weapon. Our rules regarding sticks are- they are not to be used as weapons (although he doesn't really know what a weapon is yet); they need to stay low to the ground and the larger they are the more open the space must be.

To me, sticks are nature's ultimate toy. They can become anything- a little animal house, a teepee, a writing utensil, a fork, a stirring spoon, a hammer, a nail, a peg, some porridge, a walking stick... North could go on and on.

Sadly, I've noticed a lot of Mums discouraging their children from playing with sticks. Of course, I realise they are worried about their child's safety and the danger of eyes being poked and prodded. But, I just don't feel right telling North to put one down as long as he is using it safely and with a gentle intention.


Where do you stand on the sticks and stones issue? Where do you draw the line? Do I sound like one of those Mums you tut-tut under your breath at the park?

xo m.

14 comments:

Tania said...

Little North looks like he is having a great time with all those sticks. My son is eight and loves playing with sticks. I've even seen him build cubby houses with them. I never had any issues with them, but do draw the line at them being brought inside. As for rocks, I've had to intervene a few times as small ones have been used to throw at their siblings (!) but they do like collecting them.

Umatji said...

nah I am so with you, mind you I reckon that the rule is useful with kids who haven't been allowed to use them and are not being supervised - that IS how you lose an eye. Nothing worse than a four or five year old finally getting hold of a stick for the first time without some parental support I reckon. Don't know how you get other parents to come around though. Our rules are sticks point at the ground or at rocks and dirt. Not at people or creatures.
x

Sarah said...

My kids love playing with sticks as well. They have a game where they build little towns with them and use leaves as a roof for all the houses :). Im happy for them to play with them, as long as they arent causing any harm with them :).

deux chiens et un garcon said...

We love sticks and stones as being all part of nature. We have very special ones that sit in a lovely basket in our living room. It brings our little man so much joy.

Mama Mash said...

Stick are fine as long as they aren't waving them around near the face of themselves or any one else.
Stones are also a good natural "toy" to play with and explore, my little one is often seen carrying a stone or 2 around with him.

Cass said...

I have no issue with kids playing with sticks and stones as long as they are done in appropriate ways - not as weapons, no running with sticks (my daughter is super clumsy and I don't want her to trip and hurt herself with the stick), no throwing them if other people/animals are nearby.
We often have a little collection of sticks, leaves, rocks, flowers and gumnuts from our walks home from school.

Kat said...

You should add a picture of the amazing cubby houses the children at Gleanaeon build from trimmed tree branches. I fully agree with you about allowing boys (especially) to play and build and imagine with sticks. There is a side note to this of course. Children who are exposed to violent images from television, videos, games, play etc, will imitate that with whatever is at hand. The stick is no longer a treasure from nature, but a weapon to process the overwhelming violent impulse the child has observed. (By the way, as my son is now six, I am happy to report that the stick attachment has finally waned. Look forward to ever increasingly large piles of sticks accumulating in the floor of your car, verandah and walkways....)

The Beetle Shack said...

an interesting discussion. I have a 2 year old who is also naturally drawn to 'boy' toys- he would run down hill with a giant skewer if allowed. I'm relaxed about playing with sticks to a point, the shorter the better! As a youngster i lost and eye (to cancer, not stick poking) so i'm anxious to ensure my tot keeps both of his! Close supervision is key, but boys will be boys!

xo em

kristi said...

if there are other kids around, it is a no. if it is just mine, it's a go.

Kaz said...

I draw the line at the 3metre BRANCH that my girls wanted to take home from the park - they dragged it with all their might, some how thinking I would put it in the car! My house if full of sticks, feathers & stones & I have two girls. Though Im sure one day my washing machine will die due to over exposure to stones that are always tucked into their pockets..and forgotton about...

jojo said...

Yes my views are pretty similar to Kristi's on this topic. I'm all for exploration with nature but I don't want my child to be responsible for hurting another simply because they were so engrossed in their game using pointy sticks and accidentally poked someone. I do think though once children are a bit older say around 5 years as long as they are not using them as weapons they are responsible enough to play with them independently around others or in co-operation with others because they have a greater sense of spacial-awareness and a better understanding of the potential danger.

Green Mama said...

I collected some sticks a couple of months ago from the reserve behind my house and walked them home through the park- I wanted them for my number 2 cherub's birthday party table, and I was given some dirty looks, and a little boy told me I shouldn't play with sticks! I told him and by default his mother with the evil eye that because I'm 37 years old I know how to be careful!

Michelle said...

I've never heard of children not being allowed to play with sticks! They are such wonderful tools for imaginative games. Boys WILL turn them into weapons at some point, but our rule is that they are only to be used as swords and only used for good, like slaying evil dragons, not for hurting people. And all sticks and swords must be left at the door when coming inside.

Every day my daughter's class walk to the Land of Sticks (nearby bushland) for 30 minutes for creative play, they build dwellings and pretend campfires and such with sticks. Learning disguised as fun - love Steiner!

michelle said...

My boys love sticks, they have spent the last couple of weekends making a fairy house out of sticks and collecting little treasures from around the garden to decorate the fairy house with. The fairy house is lined with flowers from our garden, fallen leaves, chicken feathers, sand and anything else that fairies would like. We talk about playing safely, then they enjoy creative and unstructured play outdoors. Beautiful!

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