When Covid-19 shut our schools down suddenly, my heart went out to all the children. One day they were in school – and the next day they weren’t! For most children, school is not only a structure for academics, it is a stable environment for learning social skills and building peer relationships. It’s a comfortable routine and something to do! It’s understandable that during lock-down, kids were driving their parents crazy! They missed their friends and they yearned to be out of the house.
About a month into forced isolation, parents in our neighborhood realized the importance of socialization and independence for their children. A group of young boys started spending hours and hours playing together outdoors.
I live in the city, but in a naturally protected wooded area where trees are thick and creek beds lie in wait to be explored. Normally, the creek is easily accessible only in a few places. After months of intervention by these industrious boys, however, we now have an entire network of arteries that lead through the woods and down to the water!
We have ropes tied to trees so you can swing out into the water; we have deep, narrow holes along the creek bank to hold fishing poles; we have hills cleared of debris for sliding and rolling down; and we have remnants of often-used toys, shovels, and buckets.
All summer long I wanted to survey this maze of new paths, but there was always an “adventure builder” or two occupying the area and staking claim to the result of their hard work.
Our schools re-opened several weeks ago. Some children have resumed in-class learning while others are on-line students, but they all have a routine during the week which no longer allows for outdoor play. I could finally search that special realm they created!
Now, when I take my daily walk I don’t stay on the paved paths. No! I duck into every little passageway I come across. I am amazed at all the channels they forged through the trees and brush during a time when they struggled for something to do. To them I’d like to say I’m sorry for your covid-filled months of childhood interrupted but thank you for combating your boredom by conceiving and shaping the little-boy world I now enjoy!
It’s Only Words #13