When I was little, my sister and I played. Not inside, but outside, all day long. In fact we were told to come in when the little men who lived in the light posts turned the street lights on. Yes, I was that girl who would listen for the sounds at the light posts, to see if they started working or not.
We would walk down to the creek and look for craw dads, and other exotic animals which usually meant ticks. I think we were always tick checked upon return because we had no fear. If we were not allowed to go to the creek for whatever reason, we stayed at home and played school in our backyard. We would make the school house, and teach each other important subjects like reading and writing, sometimes joke telling. We would play in the sprinklers. Take our crayons and paper outside and color. Anything you could think of, we would take outside.
On one particular occasion, I remember my sister and I finding a snake on the side of the road that looked dead. My sister picked it up and showed it to my mother who proceeded to scream and say, “That snake is alive and playing dead! Put it down!” We giggled and threw it on the ground, then laughed at the way our mom responded! Does that mean she never let us go down the street again? Of course not! After all, this is what kids do, and this is how they learn. I never knew snakes played dead, or that if I got a scratch it was not the end of the world. I never knew that craw dads would pinch, until I got pinched. My sister and I explored and learned confidence through play, that we would never have known otherwise.
Lately, I have been remembering these days, and missing them as I watch my own kids play. What I have noticed is if I leave them alone and let them play, they come up with the most amazing things! I do not need to entertain them with trips to the water park, or tons of craft projects. They come up with their own version of a park, and do the most incredible crafts outside. More learning takes place with neighborhood friends over playing together and learning to get along despite religious differences and age ranges.
Only in summer can this type of learning take place, with kids free to explore, if we let them. Freedom to get hurt, freedom to find out more about the neighborhood, freedom to live and use imaginations.
Truly, there is no other season like summer!
Have a great time everyone, remembering your summers and watching children love theirs.