Sunday, August 12, 2012

Go Play Outside.

I remember when I was a kid and it was nice outside, my mom would always tell us to go play outside.  We never dared say we were bored, or she would just put us to work.  During the months we were in school, we could usually find things to do outside on the weekends if it wasn’t raining but during our summer vacations we had to learn to avoid being underfoot every day.  To avoid extra chores, we soon learned to find things to do before it gave our mom any ideas about how she could put us to use.

Now, if you were born within the past 20 years you may not have had the same upbringing.  Parents work more often, the world is not really a safe place and parents don’t necessarily want their kids wandering all over just to find something to do.  Kids are generally happy staying inside, playing on their phones, their video games or their computers. 
I’m sure I’m dating myself (and I’m really not that old!) but when I was a kid, we did not have access to all the fun devices available now.  We only had five channels on the television…4, 5, 7, 11 and 13…and while we did watch Saturday morning cartoons, watching anything on t.v. was usually saved for evenings.  I wasn’t a teen yet so never had much use for the phone to call friends, which was a good thing because we had a party line.  When I did have to use the phone, instead of a dial tone I would often hear one of the talkative elderly ladies on our hill catching up with her friends or family.  A party line…can you imagine dealing with that now?  Having to wait until someone else was done with their conversation before you could use the phone? 

Eventually, we did have Atari and the video games offered via that console.  I can’t even imagine what my boys would say if they saw the types of video games we played back then compared to what is available now.  We were also provided more options for television channels and then MTV made its debut when I was just a teen.  Yes, it’s true there was a day when MTV’s daily content was just music videos.  MTV was fun to watch back then, especially music videos from the 80’s.
But rather than watch t.v., talk on the phone or play a video game, as many kids do today, if the sun came out to play, we went out to play.  No question.  We were fortunate in that we resided on a farm with hundreds of acres at our disposal and not many neighbors to worry about.  We would catch crawdads and salamanders in the creek.  We enjoyed the time of year when we could find frog eggs so we could keep them in a bucket and watch them hatch before returning them back to the creek.  We would walk so far back on to the property we likely put ourselves in harm’s way considering what could have happened should we have come across a mother bear or a cougar.  We were just fortunate never to have crossed paths with them.  I think the scariest animal we came across was a skunk and we were lucky to see him first so we could run away before he saw us.  Sometimes I wonder how my mom never went crazy with worry because we would be gone for hours venturing out around the farm and attached properties. 

As an adult, when it is nice outside, we don’t often get to play but rather, we get to work.  The yard needs to be mowed.  A garden needs to be planted.  Flowers need pruning.  The garden needs weeding.  A fence needs fixing.  Potholes need to be filled.  As with the inside of the house, the chores outside can be never-ending, especially if you live in the country.  Of course, now that I have children, I see why my mom would put us to work if she were trying to complete chores with us underfoot.  Many hands make light(er) work.
Even with all the chores we need to keep up on, it is nice when we can actually make the time to just “play” outside.  Enjoy the yard or garden.  Smell the flowers.  Go for a walk.  Ride a bike to see the sights around you.  Soak up some sun while reading a book.  Play a game of horseshoes.  Visit with friends while sipping iced tea. 

The sun is only here for a short visit before the days get shorter and cooler.  I think I will listen to what mom used to say and just go outside to play. 
I hope you do too.


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