Well, it’s half over and it’s HOT, and I mean hot this year! I think back to when I was young and it was summer, and it seemed like summer lasted forever. It was never too hot to go outside. We lived outside all summer long and only came home when the street lights came on. Now it seems I have to talk my children into walking to the mailbox to check the mail. Can someone tell me, is it really getting hotter or am I just getting old?
So, what has changed? Is it me just not being able to take the heat or are kids these days just getting lazy and not going to play outside as much? Or is it the third option and are we, as parents, not letting them run wild and free outside as we used to? I have to think it’s the latter. I have to agree, if my kids wanted to run free as I did, I’m not so sure I would be ok with that today. Not that my parents did anything wrong at all, it does seem we are in different times these days. So I guess the question is, are those days gone for good? How do we get
As kids, we learned a lot on our own, exploring the back woods and walking along the river and creeks. We built confidence in ourselves, and we learned a sense of direction (after all, we did have to find our way back) and so much more. I think our kids today have so many options for accessing information that sometimes the lack of curiosity causes the lack of the need to explore. You see, we live in a world where no matter what information you want to have, you can get it with a few keystrokes.
For example, I know when I was a kid, we had countless rope swings that landed us in the river. We had so many because the different heights of the river meant we could use one of them one day and others were not options. However, to find out which one we would swing on, or if we could even use it, we had to meet up on our bikes, ride out to the woods, hide our bikes in the woods, then start walking through the woods and looking for them and seeing. Now, some days we would get distracted and we would never make it to the swings, but we would make a fort or start a tree house, or end up hunting something in the woods. No matter what happened though, we had fun, and every day we learned something new. Now all kids have to do is check the river stages online and they can see how high the water is before they even know how hot it is outside.
I say all this, not to complain, but to remind us parents that we need to make sure we leave a way for our kids to explore things and not always have the answers for them. Sometimes we need to build an environment for them to have to wonder and think about what the answer could be, and dream of what it would be like. This can be hard, but that’s the job of parents, the hard one. So next time you see a way to let them run and explore, let them take it and build on the fact that it is ok to not always have an answer, but to go seek it out. If you don’t see this opportunity, do your best to make one for them, and send them out into the world to explore and wonder. When they get back, you can talk all about it together IRL (In Real Life). Then, you can all post it to your socials.
Go make the most of the last half of the summer, and go explore something.