at the park

Posted on October 9th, 2013 by mountain girl  |  4 Comments »

We love this park.  It’s one of those little neighborhood parks that probably 20 years ago was teeming with kids–swinging, sliding, whooping, getting in one last game before they were called to dinner.

Now it’s deserted.  We usually drive past it at least twice a day, and since we moved here I have never seen a single kid at the park. Kids are too busy for parks.  I guess they have more important things to do–homework, sports, tweeting, Minecraft.

But us?  We’re not too busy.  After breakfast, school, and lunch, we go to the park.  It takes about ten minutes to walk there from home.  We sit in the grass and Cash swings or sifts sand and tastes rocks.  Zia pretends she’s on a pirate ship (the slide and platform) and the grass is the ocean.

I bury my toes in the sand and look at the mountains, and all my cares and frustrations melt away.  It’s the ultimate unwind.  Cash decides he’d like to slide too, and I get my workout in taking him up and down the slide.

He’s really proud of himself, doing all these “big kid” playground things alongside Zia.  That face says it all.  He just needs a pair of rabbit ears to complete his look, don’t you think?

(Don’t mind the blurry spots in all these photos.  That happens when your kids suck on the lens.)

This swingy see-saw thing is the most popular piece of equipment.   Zia gets it going pretty high and it becomes the “rowboat” for the pirate ship.

And yup, he’s falling off.  I can hear Grandma and Mimi both gasp in horror.  But I caught him, just in time.

Ever since I read Last Child in the Woods, I have a new appreciation for unstructured time outdoors.  Sports and team activities are great.  In an age of childhood obesity and couch potato kids, they get kids to actually move.  But sports can’t take the place of having lots of free time as a kid to explore the world outside.

I can’t really put into words what my outdoors freedom as a child did for me as a person.  I know it shaped me, probably more than any other one aspect of my childhood.  I had endless haunts–mostly by myself, a few with my brother–where I spent hours each day.  I noticed and could identify a myriad of different aspects of nature, without knowing exactly what they were called.

I found out about myself and what moved me–watching the clouds move and change, watching the water ripple downstream, sitting high above the world in a pecan tree.  I know that much of the creativity I draw on in my adult life stems from my senses being awakened outdoors as a child–awakened to nature, to knowing myself and the way I think and feel, to knowing my inner workings.

It might sound dreamy and unproductive, but having that kind of time to think and explore was a huge grounding force in my life.

I hope I can give my kids freedom in a world where time constraints are becoming increasingly tightened on children.  I don’t want them to have the kind of childhood that is mostly planned out and structured, even down to activities and “fun time”.

I want them to have time to lie in the grass and look at the sky, and feel their limits thrown off.  To run through a field for the pure joy of it, not for anyone or anything but themselves.

So I’m glad to have this park, and to have our own acre-and-a-third of woods, a little hunk of outside for our kids.  It doesn’t take much; just a little space and a lot of free time.  And really, kids ought to have that.  I think they deserve that much.

4 Responses to “at the park”

  1. Lyssa says on :

    I had the same outdoor freedom growing up : ) Being home-schooled meant that I could even do my book work outside on nice days, so I ended up spending most of my week outdoors! I hope to give my children the same experience of feeling comfortable in nature.

  2. Mimi says on :

    Nice…I especially like the “blurry lens-sucking” comment…LOL. And so glad you caught him.

  3. GRANNY says on :

    I KNOW CALEB CAN RELATE TO THIS PARK. IT IS SIMILAR TO THE ONE WE USED TO TAKE HIM TO FOR SEVERAL YRS HERE WHERE WE LIVE. ABOUT 3 YRS AGO THEY DID AWAY WITH IT. CALEB AND GRAMPS AND EVEN GRANMA USED TO GO THEREALOT. WE TOOK PICNIC LUNCHES AND HAD FUN. EVEN CLIMBED TREES. IM SO GREATFUL FOR THOSE MEMORIES AND U WILL BE ALSO.

  4. Tiffany says on :

    They are so sweet! 🙂

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