In early April, we received the most recent issue of The Atlantic. The cover story was one titled "The Overprotected Kid". I couldn't break the magazine open quickly enough. This is a topic I think about A LOT.....I know my kids don't have enough freedom and I worry how about how it will affect them in the long run. Like most people my age, I had WAY more freedom than my own children. My parents let me loose in the neighborhood and I was only called in for dinner or when it got dark.
I LIVED in the woods and I am well aware that the amount of time I spent surrounded by nature shaped me in a HUGE way. I played in the creek daily. Didn't Mom & Dad worry I'd fall, hit my head on a rock and drown? Weren't they concerned that some weirdo would walk into the woods and steal me? What about the poison ivy and the snakes and my dirt-covered clothes and shoes?They never seemed worried. Neither did the parents of my friends. But letting me loose was one of the most fantastic gifts my parents could give me. I have such beautiful memories of swinging over the creek on a long vine, building forts, chasing each other through the woods, perfecting our dam building....need I go on? No one was looking over my shoulders. Not one afternoon had a planned activity.
I finished reading the article and I was upset. But what could I do? We don't live in an area where I can let my kids loose. No way. So what did I do? I filled the girls' water bottles, packed a few snacks, jumped in the car with Clara, picked Sophie up from the bus stop and headed straight to a nature path near home. When we got there, I told the girls to go and do whatever they wanted. You should have seen the way they looked at me!!! It's so sad but they didn't even know what to do. Go, walk in the woods, play in the creek, get dirty, find some bugs......these are the things I told them. It took a while and there was some trepidation but they eventually took tentative first steps into the woods.
And I have to admit that it wasn't easy for me. These kids weren't raised in the woods. I was nervous. I followed them around from a distance as they ventured. I tried to pretend like I wasn't paying attention to them (yeah right!). A couple of times I even let them out of my sight (GASP!) but immediately panicked and called them back. Still, I do get points for trying, right? As they played and went "wild" (ha!), I took photos.
Of course Harry had to follow along and help protect the girls.
The girls played at this rotted log for about 1/2 an hour until a massive bug ran out and made Sophie jump a foot into the air. She is not afraid of bugs so that just tells you something about the size and "scary factor" of this particular bug!
I kept going back for more pictures because, as you may remember, towhees are my favorite (sssshhhh, don't tell Harry!).
If I still did my Suburban Field Journal posts, I'd include this picture. I love when we go somewhere in the suburbs and find a reminder that this used to be someone's large piece of property. Well, I shouldn't say I love it because it actually makes me sad.
My kids are still overprotected. I want to be positive but I just don't think there's any way around that these days. Even a laid back parent like me has a hard time letting go. I will always search for opportunities to give the girls freedom to roam and explore. Until I find them, I'm happy I had this lovely afternoon with two of my favorite people and I was glad to have a little of my own freedom to take some nature photos!