What Happened to the Simple Joys in Childhood?
I took time out of all the busyness that was going on inside my home today to go outside and do some yard work. I also shooed eight of my kids outside even though they weren’t finished with their chores inside. The beautiful weather will be gone fast enough here in Wisconsin, no need to waste it being locked up doing chores.
I decided to weed my little flower beds, and also asked my son to show me how to use the weed wacker. I’ve never used a weed wacker before and I can say it was rather empowering. I understand why my 12 year old son has been so happy that his dad bought him a small size one so he could help with all the yard work. There is a small thrill in tearing all those overgrown weeds down so quickly and precisely!
I am 22 weeks pregnant so I didn’t want to use the power tool for too long. I was tempted to let it rest against my huge belly but I doubted baby would appreciate the vibrations and noise. I hacked away at the weeds, which have been growing ever so mountainous and causing anxiety for my poor husband who hasn’t been able to get a handle on the yard this year, for about 15 minutes.
While I was triumphing over those monster weeds some of the kids were playing in their small pool while spraying our Bull Mastiff, Otis, every time he barked at them and their happy screeches. This was hilarious because the goofy dog loved getting the cold water sprayed in his mouth even though he didn’t particularly care for getting wet.
There is such joy in hearing the kids laugh and play outside. Joy in seeing them be so carefree. How great that their biggest problem for those moments of playing in the pool and with the hose is their silly dog barking at them, a sibling spraying them, and making sure they get their turn being in control of the water. Ah, childhood.
I weeded my little flower beds growing in front of my home. Some of my girls picked the flowers out and planted them for me as my Mother’s Day present this year. My husband took 3 of the girls to buy them and instructed them to weed the beds and plant them for me. Such a precious gift from the kids.
The flowers are yellow and purple pansies, an adorable little red flower, and another sunshine yellow flower (I’ve forgotten the names). Simple and sweet flowers. As I weeded the beds and listed to the kids playing I started thinking how everyone really needs to get out and garden or hike or just do something outdoors more. It’s so good for the body and soul. It clears the mind. It makes one be still and silent and grateful, just by being outdoors and doing something enjoyable.
I started reflecting on my own childhood. I grew up in the 80’s in a small neighborhood outside of a little desert town. Some of what was good in my childhood was I spent a lot of time outside. I would ride my bike all over the neighborhood. Go for walks across the desert, to the cemetery, the park, all through my neighborhood. I had friends in the neighborhood so sometimes I would be with them, but often I was alone. Looking back I can see how good that was for me. Lots of time to think, pray, be in silence. I had a lot of time to do nothing in particular. Time kids today would say is boring and parents would say is unproductive.
These days we tend to fill children’s schedules up. They need to be doing something useful, learning, competing, anything but doing nothing. When they do have free time they are online, playing video games, blasting earphones in their ears, they are still doing lots of things. Doing a lot of somethings and not at all enough of nothing.
How can kids learn to think deeply, to contemplate? How will they enjoy silence, learn to deeply pray? How can they be creative if they never have time to think on their own? How can they wonder if we fill their lives with schedules, list of things to do, goals to meet? What happened to the simple joys in childhood?
I plan on making it even more of a point to have my kids enjoy simple joys in life, unplugged, and embrace boredom even. Kids should be okay with having nothing to do sometimes. Kids should grow some flowers, plant some veggies, get their hands dirty. They should run and roll down hills. Spray each other with the hose. Take long bike rides. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds roll by, watch the sunset, try and count the stars at night. Pitch a tent and sleep in the yard. I did those things as a kid. My own children need to do those things more than they do now. They do some of it, but not enough. It’s time.