Today’s post is courtesy of Karen Baer, who has over a decade of experience in the environmental industry. She has worked for Terraine for the past 9 years and is discussing a recent trip with her sons to a local nature center and her insights regarding that experience.
On Saturday, I took my sons and a friend to Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden for the Family Fall Festival. We enjoyed activities like apple pressing, weaving honeysuckle wreathes, and a solar harvesting demonstration. Soon after we arrived, we headed down into a beautiful clearing to sit and watch a dance performance by children of all ages. Following the third song, my 5-year old, in quite a loud voice and as if sitting was causing him physical pain said, “Is it over yet?!”
I wanted to die
Thankfully, it was the last song, so we were able to slip away before we received many judgmental, “where is your appreciation for the arts??!!” type of glares. Truth be told, I felt about the same way as my son. I found it boring, and the costumes too Peter Pan. I just didn’t say it out loud. Because somewhere along the line, between ages 5 and 34, we are told by teachers, by parents, by babysitters, by relatives, what are appropriate things to say and do and what are not.
Later in the afternoon, we walked up to the Play Trail. An area that, upon entering, felt magical, simple, and perfect. No plastic; few rules. My sons thrived. Log chairs, a mud kitchen, and live willow tunnel. Imagination unleashed and freedom to explore — they would have stayed all day.
Sometimes I wonder how many of the “don’t-do-thats,” “stops,” and “shhhhhs” as children hurt the “who we have the possibility to become.” Are the children that are allowed to speak their minds, keep their elbows on the table, draw rather than color, and live a more “free-range” life more fearless? Better leaders? More successful?
Maybe it’s time for adults to selectively let go. To discontinue saying and doing because it’s what we have been told is best. Maybe then we’ll return to that place where our own imagination is unleashed and our freedom found.