Monday, August 18, 2008

unstifling childhood..

The pond spread out in front of us like a giant moss speckled mirror. Totally still, calm and placid, like a child waking from a restful sleep.

*plop plop*

I look over as the boys fling some crab apples from the sidewalk into the murky water. I feel sluggish. Like the mid-afternoon drag on Monday, when you've lost some of the momentum you had to start the week off, when you stop just long enough that you realize the past two days were so much shorter than the four ahead. Is it the heat? or the lack of sleep from last night? It slows me down enough to make it impossible to think of anything but here and now.

Children with cheeks flushed from hard play and eyes filled with eager anticipation "What's next? What will we do? When do we come back?" I look around the park with a twinge of sadness. I love their innocence and delight in the simplicity - the grove of trees often holds their attention longer than the slides and swings do. Still, there are remnants of a truly awesome piece of childhood here. A snack bar by the pond, with a picnic area up stairs, built into the hillside. A tiny boat dock, a plastic jug now covering the fountain spout in the pond. A wading area, over grown with weeds, now disintegrating concrete and only part of the hand rail left jutting out of the ground sorely out of place. The squeak of the swings is so loud we can barely hear each other - they are the only remnants of the original play ground.. which was replaced some years ago with updated 'safer' play equipment. Still, I can picture in my mind the things that may have been there - a merry go round, a tall metal slide, a jungle gym tall enough to break bones if you fell from it... It seems as though the tennis court is the only thing that has really been kept up. As if the children that once played here all grew up and moved on, and their parents only cared to keep the court clean so they could keep up their game.. never mind that they might have grandchildren visiting some day who might like to play in the park. But there will be DVDs and video games for their entertainment. Overstimulating technology constantly bombarding their delicate minds. Numbing their brains to the point of quieting them.

I remember the hours spent in the parks of my own childhood. Days upon days of digging tunnels in the sand, swinging from monkey bars and spinning on the tire swing until we got nauseated. Racing in the grass, flying kites, hunting for lizards and tadpoles or, after a good rain, for worms and newts. Exploring dry creek beds, perfecting our bumble bee catching techniques, and listening intently for chirping frogs and crickets as dusk would fall.. And I wonder, how many of these things will my children miss out on? So I resolve to make sure that they don't miss a single one. After all, it was my own mother who introduced us to many of the hot summer afternoon wonders of my own childhood.

I'm tired of my kids sitting in front of a computer game or tv show. Brain destroying idiotic humor filled cartoons and hypnotizing pointless games.. Sure, I do enjoy the hour or two of peace and quiet it gives me now and then - but I don't like seeing that glazed over look in their eyes.. It's disturbing. It can be an uphill battle some days to fight the entertainment industry, and it surprises me at times that my children continue to fight it even after having the taste of sunshine and grass on warm afternoon... and then I remember the broken glass in the grass of our park. But I won't let it stop us. I won't let the intoxicated transient who sat and drank in the park and then threw his bottle at the tree just to watch it break ruin our perfect August afternoon. We'll just keep our shoes on today.



Teri said...

I agree! My daughter watches too much tv and my lame excuse is I have an infant to take care of. :(
By the way, I love the writing technique.

Amie said...

I only let my boys play video games when it's raining out. Believe me, I actually look forward to the rainy days for the break :)

I love that we live in an area where my kids can play outside without worrying about traffic.

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