Monday, January 11, 2016

Freedom!

Being a kid today is so different from when I was growing up. When I was little, we roamed the neighborhood (and in my case, the untouched desert surrounding our Arizona home). Some of my best memories are of playing for hours with a group of neighborhood kids, including my siblings, under Palo Verde trees in the desert. We bmx biked, we ran, we built, we had fun! And none of this fun was done under the watchful eyes of our parents. We were all on our own...and it was AWESOME!

 Today, things are much different. While I try to let my kids experience some things on their own, I won't leave them at the park unsupervised, I would never dare leave them all day at the public pool and I do keep my eye on them in public. Even school is much more structured than when I was young. By the end of my year in Kindergarten, I was barely starting to read words like "Ted" and "Ned" and had simple scratch and sniff "workbooks" that were fun! And that was my first formal school experience. Many of today's Kindergarteners already have several years of school under their belts. Today when I walked my second-grader to her classroom, her teacher announced that they would be having a surprise Math test. What the what??!! It's Monday morning at 8 am and they're in SECOND grade! Geesh. My stomach dropped. I can't imagine how the kids felt.

I love my kids' school and I know they love it there too, but I really feel that there is a ton of pressure placed on kids today. Every parent has to find that balance that works for their family, and my husband and I do the same.

We both find that our camping trips provide an environment that naturally allows our kids much more freedom than they would otherwise have. And we have loved seeing our kids in their element, truly enjoying their surroundings.

It is really rewarding to see your daughter, who has been climbing rocks since she was a toddler, happily scramble up a beach cliff. Her pride is evident. I love to see her so confident and proud of herself. We are proud of her too.
 And your son, who tells you he's not allowed to climb the play equipment at school, happily climbs to new heights at the beach. He gains confidence and new skills with each step. When he slides down a bit, he learns to try a new path.
And the kids explore sea caves. They are in awe at the natural wonders around them.
 And the middle child is ecstatic to be the first to find a starfish. She is the most observant of our kids, and it is nice to see her talents shine here.
All three kids, race the waves and spend an entire day playing happily on their own terms.
And when the sun begins to go down, we return to our campsite. And the kids continue to play.

 And us grown-ups are happy to see them enjoying their childhood and the bit of freedom that we can give to them. It's a beautiful gift to all of us.




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