I love this old picture of Emily when she was a kid. We call it her “abused baby” period. Her parents never abused her of course…she did it all herself. When she was about 2, she climbed out of her crib and, like Isaac Newton, learned the truth about gravity…it works! Somehow, she broke her arm. Babies are supposed to have “green” bones that bend and flex. I hate to think about how her arm must have twisted to break. Anyhow, along with the broken arm is the skinned up knee. This picture captures her childhood through junior high as near as I can tell.
We played pretty rough and had a lot of freedom to explore when we were kids. I sometimes struggle as a parent to know how much to allow my kids to roam. Off and on, I have been reading Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and it makes me think. Now, ask anyone and they’ll tell you just how rare it is that I think. But this book has made me wonder if I am giving my kids enough room to roam and explore and understand nature. The premise of the book is that kids used to be in touch with nature and outside stuff. Now, in an attempt to shelter and protect our kids, we have removed them from the natural world we (and our parents before us) loved so much. It’s where we learned teamwork and problem solving and a good bit more about how life works. So, I don’t know exactly how far to let my kids roam, but I know they need to do so. They may get bumps and bruises and maybe even a broken arm. But a broken arm that is well earned is worth the pain I think.
Where I struggle is with all the “big scaries” that exist out there. I see the sex-offender list and there are bad folks not far, no matter where we may roam. Still, I think we (meaning I) need to do what I can to let my kids roam and pick up snakes and turtles and catch fish and see the bats fly around in the fields at night. It’s important and the only way that they can truly appreciate the world around them I think.
My kids may not be able to roam quite like I did (and I am certain I never roamed like my grandparents did…were their parents crazy?!), but I think there is room for them to explore and still be safe. Who knows, someday they may even earn a broken arm like their Mom…
So, what do you think…do you ever consider the freedom your kids have or what you had when you were a kid? How do you let kids roam and explore?