Wednesday, May 13, 2009

summer nostalgia

How hard is it to not roll your eyes when someone starts a sentence with "Back when I was a kid..."? It sort of goes along with notions of the "good ol' days," which many people might argue weren't actually all that good for them.

That being said, back when I was a kid, I played outside all summer long. And it rocked. And I think many kids don't get summers like that anymore.

I thought about this today while playing outside with Arlo (2) and Elsa (5.5 months). We strolled to a park about a mile away and got lost with the sandbox, the playground equipment, the tennis court, and the little woods attached to the playground. With the sun warming our faces and dirt on our hands and jeans, I couldn't help but think back to the way my brother and I spent all our summers. We woke up, had breakfast, then headed outside, lost in our imagination. We made up secret worlds, made tree forts, dug holes, ran around, rode bikes, swam, and had tons of fun. No sitting inside, braindead with our video games and TV. We only ventured inside for food, and even that was a bit begrudgingly.

Today there is much talk about rising child obesity and hours logged in front of the TV and video games. Many kids are forced to attend one camp after another all summer long while both parents work outside the home. Summertime begs for kids to have free time - time to explore, create, play, and yes, be bored. And figure out how to deal with that boredom. My heart breaks for the children that spend all summer indoors and for the childhood that is missed when spent in front of a TV.

I don't yet have any answers. Maybe it starts with awareness. Maybe there is something government can do. Maybe each community needs to come up with a collective choice to give children back their childhood. Maybe parents who work all day need to come home, take the kids outside, and spend some time with the kids climbing trees, digging up worms, watching catepillars, planting a tree.

Meet you at the park...

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