Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Midwest living...

As soon as my children get home from school they want to be outside. Despite the challenge this presents to getting homework done in a focused, timely matter, I'm all for it. The weather has been sunny and warm the last few days, with temperatures in the upper 60's to low 70's. The grass is emerald green and gardens throughout the neighborhood are speckled with nodding daffodils. Buds are swelling on the trees with the occasional early bloomer already unfolding tiny leaves. There has begun to be a warm meaty scent carried on the air at dinnertime as at least one family each evening determines it's perfect cookout weather. I can finally hear birds again as they flit around gathering worms from the dark, fertile soil. Our little neighborhood is alive with the sound of children laughing and shrieking with joy. Midwestern folks are not big on fences, so most of the yards converge into a big open area not unlike a park.
Yesterday Kennedy came to the house to ask if it was ok for them to go play kickball in her friend Katie's yard. Having been a kickball star in my youth I was all for this. (Seriously, I was awesome. I ruled the playground. I know it was a result of playing kickball in the back yard with my older brothers. We used a dead basketball which weighed a ton. Kicking those playground balls at recess was nothing compared to that brick!) Kennedy changed her shoes and raced off to join Katie. I can't begin to describe the overwhelming feeling of contentment I felt as I watched the two of them run from yard to yard gathering a crew for a game of kickball. I knew from her flushed cheeks and bright eyes that she was at that moment creating her own warm, nostalgic childhood memories. I've recently come to the realization that I've been desperately trying to find a way to recreate MY childhood for my children. Just the other day when I lost my post, I had been writing about the fact that it's not WHERE my children spend their childhood that will make the difference. It's HOW. They will have the same feelings about it as I had about my own if they are provided security and love. If they have opportunities to be kids, to be carefree. Which leads me to the other parenting point I've been thinking about of late. I like for them to be involved in activities, but I really want to avoid getting them involved in EVERYTHING. I want them to just be kids- no deadlines, no stress inducing events, no confinement in the house on lovely days while they spend what feels like countless hours practicing instruments. I don't want them to spend a rainy day inside practicing dance when they could be stomping in puddles and floating boats. I think there are valuable lessons to be learned from organizing a pickup kickball game. There was no adult present to gather kids, pick teams, lay out the rules, officiate, or coach. They had to work that all out on their own. There is infinite worth to developing those skills. It's something not easily taught, something better figured out in the back yard. I stood on the deck yesterday and watched them from a distance. I watched Renie and Devon playing on the swingset with the neighbor kids. I felt the sun on my face and I felt the happiness of being in a good place, both emotionally and physically. And so, my recent realization about my children and the memories they will have has been confirmed by a simple kickball game. And once again my heart is full.


The Blogger said...

I haven't figured out how to leave a comment on your blog without identifying myself as The Blogger. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I loved this post. Thanks for the kickball memories. Remember how Chrissy used to love to watch us play, but she'd get up way too close and personal (Pitcher's mound is the best seat in the house)? And that time Bryan kicked the "brick" and caught her in the small of the back and lifted her right off her feet? Ah, childhood.

And you're so right about letting kids be kids. Obviously you want to expose them to a lot and give them every advantage, but it's becoming so rare to see kids just amusing themselves and each other freestyle.

Have you seen this idiot commercial that shows some overburdened nine-year-old walking through the front door with the bookbag, and the voice-over of the vapid mother is all, "Poor Johnny goes and goes all day. Between school, sports, karate, guitar lessons and origami, he never gets any time to himself."

Newsflash: You're his parent! You set the tone.

It's okay. I know she's not a real person (although you might wonder, to see me shout and shake my fist at the TV). But the attitude is very real -- the notion that it's somebody else's society and we're just along for the ride.

jrt said...

hey Molly

how are you...........I have to tell you, I love your writing style
very descriptive and oooooozes emotions and feelings

Tell the lil ones hello for me

Gilly too

jessica, jessie, or jessi said...

Love your post! It got me thinking about some of my own memories... Your creativity in using a dead basketball for a kickball reminded me of the time(s) my sisters and I would wrap garbage bags around our legs and bottoms to make snowpants. (Yeah, we were ghetto like that.) And all of the neighborhood (who am I kidding...'trailer-park') baseball games we'd have that would end with both teams having tons of 'ghost-runners' because we didn't have enough kids to make legit teams. LOL!!! It is my HOPE that my kids get to experience those same memories and feelings!

Thank you for a reflection into childhood...Like a breath of fresh air!