-Two hard plastic kiddie pools
-Two plastic lawn chairs
-One slide shaped like an elephant
-One toddler swing set with a slide
-Three five gallon buckets
-One broken plastic flower pot
-About 100 puka shells scattered about
-One tow behind for a bike…..without wheels
-One garden hose
-64oz of liquid bubble bath
-Four tree stumps
-Enough sticks to shake a stick at
-One oversized rubber ducky
-One broken bird feeder
-One beach umbrella
-And numerous other little items for tinkering
These are the items in my back yard. When I was a kid all this stuff would have entertained me for days! I would have had forts built everywhere forming my own little city. My imaginary friends would play with my and my real life friends. Out the door we would head after breakfast to our own little world. Normally I would be out there with a bucket of nails and my father’s hammer to continue my own version of urban sprawl.
If I wasn’t in the mood to govern the people of my back yard I would take a couple blankets and pillows and trudge my way to the center of pucker brush and lay down for hours watching the clouds roll by as I sang to myself. On hotter days I would fill a basket with paint and head out to the stream where I had put an old board down as a bridge. There I would paint my landscapes and pretend to jump into them like in Mary Poppins and have an adventure….where I would more than likely end up soaked from splashing in the stream.
That’s what I did as a kid growing up in Maine. My imagination was more powerful than any high speed computer and my little world was more wonderful than any animated movie. And this is the dream I had for my kids. This is why my backyard is full of odds and ends. And they do great with it….for the most part. But the influence of modern society with video games, air conditioning, HD movies, and tablets has delayed their experience as real children. I want them to end their day dirty. I want them to have scrapes on their knees. Want them to know how to swing a hammer by the time they’re 7. I want them to explore under rocks and behind trees. I want them to feel the joy of watching clouds. I want them to find the imaginary things.
Sp this summer I’m pushing for imaginations to run wild! I pushing for dirty children! I’m pushing for less tv and more quality time! I know our kids can’t live the lives we did, for obvious reasons, but they can live a wonderful, fun, and new one with us enjoying it with them. So get out there with your kids. Plant a garden, build sandcastles and fairy houses, go hiking, camp in a tent, and paint rocks. This summer enjoy being the kid you once were while your kids enjoy being the kids they can be.