Our home owners rescinded our lease extension, leaving us frantically searching for a new place. Thankfully, we were accepted into a home nearby. But it got me thinking. We live in the same kind of family neighborhood. Everyone has ridiculously small yards. It’s just a reminder that Louv is right, we’re at an “end of an era of free land” in his book, Last Child in the Woods. There is no new frontier. Where once natural environments were accessible from our front door step, now the same land has been replaced by fences and concrete and neighbors on all sides. I grew up riding my bike — rain or shine — with my sis and neighborhood friends all over the place. We’d play by the irrigation ditch. I’d spend all afternoon running through the woods nearby with my best friend, making bows and arrows out of twigs and old string. We got dirty. We made stuff up.
I long for our children to have the same perception of open spaces. I want them to be inventive. I want the days to pass quickly while they get their hands dirty and their imaginations full. I encourage natural play. I want them to grow up not being severed from food origins and have a deeper understanding of our relationship with other species. I don’t want them to fear nature, I want them to respect Her. Exposing ourselves to nature is what we often do when we are done doing all other things that consume our daily lives. We’ve lost balance in our lifestyles — we and our children spend so much time participating in rigidly organized activities that children are losing time which could be spent participating in highly and purposefully unorganized play that natural environments facilitate. This kind of play nurtures creativity and wonder! Louv argues that children “losing themselves” in nature is essential for healthy development because they “stimulate all the senses and integrate informal play with formal learning.” These experiences harness the power of the imagination as the environment provides the ideal setting to be creative.
What were your childhood days spent doing?
What do you want for your kiddos?