Spots to go an hide, play, sit.
We had forts. There was a stone fort, a wood fort, a forest fort and.... I forget the other. But all four of us would build a 'home' in our fort and then battle off against each other. It made for hours of fun!
We also had dams. In the dams we would swim, make floating platforms, catch yabbies, construct dams in the inflow streams, ant villages in the water (they couldn't escape if surrounded by water). I remember one ant village was so elaborate it took 6 children 2 weeks of school holidays to build, mend and tend.
We had chooks. I wasn't so keen on them, but I cared for them anyway and now a home doesn't feel like home without them.
We spent our days outside exploring, creating, collaborating. Mum used to have this 'coo-eee' call that would let us know where ever we were on the 25 acres that it was time to head back to the house for some (probably boring) reason.
I have yearned deeply for my children to experience the same freedom. I have worried that in living in suburbia, they wouldn't get the same opportunity. I have worried that in this new world of fear, I wont let them have that same freedom. I also worried that other children are missing out on these freedoms. To explore create and be children... without the watchful eye of an adult.
To my GREAT JOY I have discovered otherwise. Being school holidays here at the moment we went for a walk down to the park. We decided to go to a different park than we usually do. On the way we saw 6 different groups of children down at the local nature reserve playing. Exploring, up to their knees in mud. Tackling each other in a game of ruff and tumble on the grass. Climbing trees, making cubbies, daming the creek with rocks and sticks. Delightfully there was not an adult in sight (other than me of course :))
Orlando said "Where are their parents?" I told him that when you get old enough you can go exploring by yourself. He was rather impressed.
He then suggested that maybe instead of the park we could find a place at the creek to play. I had always seen this creek as a storm water run off... but originally it was a natural creek. So we explored and now we have found our own secret spot.
We have been down there 4 times already. We have cleaned out any rubbish that was there. Used some clippers to trim the bushes and made a nice spot to sit. We have put stepping stones in good places so that we can get across the creek.
All the time it was right under our noses and we had never seized the opportunity! It is really quite beautiful down there and best of all I get to sit in the warm winter sun while the kids play, explore, create, engage.
Many more a trips we will have to our secret spot... we may even bring a friend one time... or when they are big enough... leave me at home!!