I'm sitting in my dining area, part of my kitchen as I live in simple ranch house. I am gazing outside as the sun come up through the trees Illuminate the multi-textured bark of the trees partially covered with yesterdays snow. My family is still snug in their beds, well, my soon to be 7 year old son is snug in mine, but same idea. I have Smooth Jazz playing on my iPhone, and I have a , mostly gone now, latte that I made a little while ago.
I'm sitting here this morning in amazement at all the wonder around me. A beautiful bright red Cardinal sits in the Birch tree singing with the sun gleaming on its belly and the white of the tree in which it sits. In the sky behind it a far off jet streaks by, affectionately called a skyscraper by my son for the vapor trail left behind. A snow covered birdhouse sits empty waiting for the birds and spring to return it to life.
As I started to write this morning my thoughts were actually with my young son. I am a believer in letting kids explore their worlds without scaring them into a life on the couch playing video games. I believe that much of the video game problem is created by parents buying into the logic that the world is filled with bad people just waiting to do something bad to their children. I do not believe that. Do I believe their are bad people, yes, ones that want to hurt children, yes, of course but they are not lurking everywhere! But I refuse to make my child scared to be outside.
I will grant you that I live in a safe town, and I really only have one neighbor that is closer than 100 feet.My son goes outside alone, and I know that freaks many people out. We have a brook that runs down the side of our house and around the back yard, he has a healthy respect for it, not a fear. We have a fire pit that we sit around in the nice weather and enjoy conversation, s'mores and the sounds of my child and a friend or two playing. Yes in the dark!
I have taught my son that if he feels the need to explore something to tell me. He was inquisitive of fire, we lit fires, safely in the fire pit. He knows what it does, the damage to things and life it can do and he knows he can ask me anytime and I'll let him light one! Instead of just telling him it is dangerous and never to do it, and having him light the house on fire or worse, burn himself badly. Same logic applies to the brook. We play in it together, we move rocks and watch what it does to the water, he walks through it while I am right there. Again he knows he can play in it, around it and through anytime as long as I am there. If you let these things be forbidden to your children then they will do them!
I also believe that children should be allowed to be just that. I did not see a need to tell him about the tragedy in New Town, CT, what good would that do? I shelter him from the news, because the latest murder in Mattapan is not relevant to his life.
Don't get me wrong, my son loves the iPad, loves playing games. But given the choice between playing games on the couch and being outside, he almost always chooses outside. I believe that is because he is allowed to live in his world and is not a prisoner to it. I haven't found anything he will not try, except for a few veggies! The pictures below were taken yesterday, we were playing in the snow, I was throwing him into the deep snow and then I said, "I'll put you on that branch and you can jump out of the tree!" His answer, "Really?" Absolutely I said and up he went! He stood there, a little more than a bit scared at first. With some gentle 1,2,3 counts he finally did it! And then went back up 4 more times!