Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bored? Go outside and find something to do.

Picture of a perfect hiding spot - a kiddo's "secret fort"
 Wildcats Club.  No girls allowed! especially Kathleen Marie Bryant and Kiki Laporta!! 

It's funny how this 10 year old tomboy didn't consider that I, the President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Wildcats Club, was indeed a girl.

A friend drew me a picture this morning on Facebook of how, as a little boy, he used to play in the woods, make forts, and "play doctor" with some of the neighborhood girls.  He caused me to stop and smile.  What beautiful memories we - the older generations - have of our childhood.  Long before computers and Nintendo, many of our mothers would sweep us outside on a hot summer's day and instruct, "Stay outside and play."  Many of us didn't need to be told.  We were out at the crack of dawn and oftentimes didn't stroll in until we heard our names hollered down the street for dinner.  Dawn 'til dusk we would play - or until the street lights came on.

When Eric and I adopted our boys, we had imagined this sort of childhood for them; bike riding, baseball in the streets, and hanging out with their best buddies until they drove me to distraction looking for them.  Obviously, things don't always turn out as one would hope.  Even if William and Austynn could make friends easily and didn't suffer the burden of Aspergers Syndrome, I don't know if their childhood would have been what my husband and I wished for them.  Times are different.  I don't hear or see kids outside building forts or playing in the streets any more.  Where are they?  This is a rhetorical question.  It doesn't need an answer because we, as adults, know what's happened.  They're inside on beautiful, sunny days playing electronic games or shuttled off to one too many after school curriculum practices.  When did we lose sight of our own childhood experiences?  Why are we not providing our children these same memories? 

It seems to me we need to remember our lives growing up and turn off the Wii remotes.  We need to step up as parents and say, "You're going outside and find something to do."  No more of this wasting away inside being pampered by air conditioning and coddled by overprotective adults.  Our kiddos need to learn the sting of what a scraped knee feels like when they fall and accept it without running in to mom for a Band-Aid.  So what if it's hot?  That's what water hoses and sprinklers are for.  No more catering to their comfort by carting the kids off to local recreation facilities with slides and water tubes.  "I'm bored!" should be met with, "Then I'll give you something to do around the house."  Bored?  I would never dare utter these words growing up, but then again - I never thought to say them.

John Laporta and I had a "neat" clubhouse.  That was the word back then, not "cool" but "neat".  In my parent's backyard there was a group of  Yucca trees, native to Southern California, nestled in the corner.  On hot summer days, John and I would convene our "meetings" in the hollow shaded space beneath these large bushes.  We had a little typewriter for note taking (though neither of us typed), pencils, paper, and assorted treasures we'd found from roaming the riverbank behind our homes.  Our "meetings" consisted mainly of plotting how we would destroy our sibling's clubhouse constructed out of old sheets hanging from my mother's clothes line.  

I recall a particular day, as we sat and munched directly from a bag of Cheetos John pilfered from his mama's pantry and sucked down grape Kool-Aid provided to us, how we felt that life couldn't get any better.  What a wonderful feeling.  Every child should feel this way growing up.  I've been inspired.  When Austy wakes up, I believe I'll hand him some old sheets and say, "Go outside and find something to do."