I am reading this book called Last Child in the Woods or Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Yes, it is interesting in parts and some are just not getting to my brain. I find myself reminiscing about my excursions outdoors as a child and with my children.
Once when we had first moved to Northern Illinois, we didn’t know a lot of people and the first time we went to the pool, someone stole Addi’s clothing. We were more careful after that and wore our suits to the pool.
The girls were bored at the farmhouse we were renting and I decided we needed an adventure. We hopped into the car and drove to our new house being built. We scrambled for scrap lumber and insulation, some nails, a hammer and string. We built little sailboats. Well Addi built a sailboat, and Jess and I built a faux pas and that is what we named our boat. We went down to the boat ramp at the dam and launched our ships. We had tied them to a nail with our string so we could retrieve them.
Addi’s boat sailed away into the lake and Jess and my Faux Pas sunk instantly. What did we do wrong? Jess retrieved the poor pathetic thing and I believe it fell apart on shore.
I used to take the children and two of their friends (all that would fit in my car) to various neighborhood villages and we would play on their playground. I loved the swings and hated the teeter totter. (Other kids always jumped off and my tailbone still hurts to this day.)
I carried three kinds of balls, a hula hoop, homemade stilts made out of coffee cans and jump rope and skates in my trunk just in case we all got bored with the playground. I also had a first aid kit and junk food like crackers and cheese packs in case we were starved. Playgrounds always had bubblers. That is what they call water fountains in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
When I was a child we visited my aunt in Kentucky frequently. One time when we visited we all went for a picnic hike in the woods. We walked the area where Jenny Wiley was captured by the Indians. (I thought that so adventurously exciting.) We saw a rope bridge across a huge cavern but I didn’t walk it as I am deathly afraid of heights. To the point that I cry, seriously!
My parents took pictures of this adventure and that is probably why it sticks in my mind so vividly. My dad cut into a sassafras bush and we all are in the photo chewing on the twigs.
I had to pee and my mom told me to just pee because I was wearing my bathing suit and could wash off at the next little stream we came to. I still cannot believe, she actually took my picture while I stood and peed myself. I must have been four or five. To this day I still cannot hunker in the forest and void. I believe I have that picture in my menagerie somewhere. I should burn it.
When the fall arrived our family would go hunt pawpaws. My Daddy knew these woods and knew the owners and they gave us permission to wander their forests. I don’t recall the actual hunting but I sure remember eating pawpaws. What a delicious and free treat for us kids.
I also remember a time that my mom wasn’t feeling up to going to pick cherries from a friend’s tree and Daddy took me with him. He spread a sheet on the ground under the tree and hoisted me into the tree. I was instructed to shake the tree as hard as I possibly could. I remember being so excited that I was helping out my Daddy.
Back to the book (and this is how I am reading this book. Stop, remember a memory, go back to the book…) I do believe that children need to be out doors every day. I think it is healing and restorative to the spirit to go outside and breathe the fresh air and get some sunshine.
There is a family that lives here at the lake and every time I pass their house, two or more kids are outside playing. Even in the wintertime. I see them in the evening chasing each other in the lot next door. Boy does that bring back memories of childhood.
We had an open lot next door to our house for many years. We and I mean our neighborhood full of kids, would gather and play baseball, croquet, build tents, do somersaults and cartwheels. That open lot has a plethora of memories.
And back to the book, the guy seems to be insinuating that being outdoors can cure ADHD. I don’t know about curing but it sure would help those little worm infested wiggle worms. (I am one of them.) My mom often asked me, “Can’t you sit still? Do you have worms?
What if all ADHD people were discovered to “have worms”. Wouldn’t we be shocked?
And so the book is for my Master Gardener’s Book Club which meets in five days and I hope I can get through this book before then. I just keep thinking he will interject a paragraph that will bring something to me besides memories of childhood and child rearing. Well it was good enough for a blog.
Photo at top is from the Dubuque Botanical Garden. Photo in center is a very young me with my little Valkryies, Jess and Addi.