When I was little we had this shed in our back yard. One day, two neighbor kids and I decided it would be a great idea to start a little fire in a pit outside that shed. We lived in town and didn't start fires on a regular basis, but for whatever reason, I decided this was a good plan.
Little did I know my brother was strategically hiding on top of the shed, just waiting for me to do something naughty, so at the first sign of smoke, he started laughing and sing-songing "You're gonna get in trouble."
And I did. Especially after I tried to blame the other two kids when it clearly was not their idea.
My kids are getting to that age now. The age of independence and exploration, but I can safely say they'd never start a fire in our back yard. This should make me happy, but the truth is, they wouldn't do this because I don't give them the chance. Their play is monitored by my hawk eyes, and sometimes I wonder if this is only stifling them.
Our new house is basically empty, unless you count all the paint cans and brushes littering the dirty carpet. That means when I'm there, my kids have nothing to do. It also means I can't hawk over them non-stop.
And I love it.
Instead of having to ration their Wii-time, (which, let's admit, is hard... they're quiet and well-behaved when they're occupied with a video game)... I've watched their imaginations completely blossom. I've considered a tech-free summer, but we're driving to Illinois in August, so I'm pretty sure that's not gonna happen...
But a tech free couple of weeks may be on our horizon.
The boys have been discovering bugs, baby bunnies that live under our shed and especially--playing Super Mario Brothers. Without the game. Sam is Mario. Ethan is Luigi and sometimes Sophia is Daisy. They run around the house, talking in funny Italian accents (which sound more like Brooklyn than Italy, but who am I to criticize?)
They dig in the dirt. They hunt for fire ants. They uncover Bowser's hiding place, which happens to be outside somewhere. They journey to the wide open space of our basement and RUN in circles until their cheeks are pink and they can't catch a breath.
Sophia continues to jump on the trampoline with her new friend, giving her a wonderful sweat-tinged odor.
Remember these summers? Playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids? Ghost in the Graveyard? Starting fires in the back yard? (No one else did that?) We skinned our knees and stubbed our toes and caught lightning bugs and turned them into jewelry...don't think I don't know how gross that is, but we did it.
And we came in smelling like dirt and sweat, the undeniable smell of summer.
I want that for my kids. I don't want to stifle their creativity by being a hawk.