We played outside when I was a kid growing up in Michigan. It didn’t matter if it was winter or summer, we were outside most of the time.
In the summers we would play hide-and-seek until way after dark. There were a bunch of us and so many different places to hide that the game would go on for hours.
We also had a sandbox to play and dig in, though I do remember the cats liked “digging” in it too…which was a little gross.
We found things to do and explored beyond our farm too.
My favorite place was the woods at the edge of our property. It was always dark in there, even in the summer. The trees and foliage were so dense they made for great mushroom hunting.
We found old abandoned shacks in those woods, and we climbed trees and hit things with sticks. It’s where we got most of our scrapes and bruises and where we learned all sorts of things.
I remember when we discovered an old dry well on the other side of our property. We crept to the edge and peered down and saw a rickety wooden chair sitting in the center. Boy did that start an avalanche of stories to explain just how and why that chair was down there.
In the winters we would get bundled up and drag just about anything we could find to “ride” over to Star Hill so we could fly down the snow-covered slopes as fast as possible.
I got the wind knocked out of me several times sledding down that hill. I’m surprised we didn’t get any broken bones or sliced off fingers while using old car hoods as makeshift sleds.
We had a lot of fun growing up.
We worked a lot as kids, but we still managed to find time to explore and grow and use our imaginations.
It was because of growing up this way I wanted to be sure my kids had the same opportunity.
When I was young, there wasn’t even a thought to stay inside and watch TV shows. And pretty much everyone we knew was doing the same things we were – playing outside.
But things were different when my sons were little.
We not only had a couple of televisions, but my boys were of the last generation to experience some part of their childhood without computers.
But it was easy for them to stay off the boob tube when they were young, because we didn’t have cable at our little farm. Funny, now we don’t really need cable to watch TV shows.
But back then we did, and the only stations our rabbit ears could pick up were the big three and public television.
In the 1980’s we were concerned as young parents about our kids watching too much TV, so I did what my mom did and sent them outside to play instead. I didn’t think much of it at the time, it just seemed like the right thing to do.
I didn’t know then that I helped them become adults by letting them figure their world out on their own, without me stepping in to fix something or show them how it’s done.