Can we help our children have a fun and fulfilling present by looking back to our playful pasts?
Summer is here! It's taken a while for those of us in Toronto but the balmy weather has finally arrived. Now are the days of patios, parks and playing outside and I am thrilled.
Something about these hot and humid months always brings me back to the most beautiful childhood experiences - summer camp, pool parties and running barefoot in the grass.
But my favourite memory is of my brother and I. When we were children we used to play at a park around the corner from my father's apartment. We would spend two weeks of every summer at his place and most of those days were occupied by our neighbourhood, we rollerbladed, played hide and seek and got into some mischief (of course!). The most vivid memory I have of those times actually took place in the rain.
We and a bunch of other kids had been splashing in the wading pool when out of nowhere it began to rain. Sun showers became dark heavy clouds and the parks and rec supervisors hustled us all down the hill into the damp coolness of the tennis club locker room.
I can still remember the smell, not quite clean, and reminiscent of the hockey equipment that it that it housed just a few months before. The tiles were smooth under our summer browned feet and we were slipping around when suddenly I felt as though I would burst if I was trapped inside for one more moment.
I looked at my brother and he looked at me then we exploded out the doors and into the tennis court and we danced. WE DANCED!! We frolicked and played, we skipped, we hopped, we twirled and leapt and were filled with joy and freedom. The rain was warm and smelled fresh and it was probably one of the top moments of my life.
And it was all possible because the space was there for us! We as kids were able to visit the park everyday and play and participate in activities run by parks and rec. Without them I don't know how he and I would have occupied those two weeks every year.
So I suppose this is a thank you but also a bit of a call to action. These days kids are inside a lot. Between computers and tv and air conditioning there are lots of reasons to stay indoors but I think we should all take a moment to remember our childhood times outside.
Those times allowed us to interact with our surroundings, they gave us confidence and we became aware that the street lights came out at a certain time. Those lights marked the end of our street hockey games or front lawn conversations but also allowed us space to look forward to the adventures of the next day.
Our kids deserve those experiences too and, if our cities aren't devoting the resources to give them parks with activities then perhaps our communities can help to fill the gaps.
What do you think? Do you have parks and rec operating programmes in your area? Does anyone have kids groups set up with school friends or neighbours to help with summertime child care? Is it right that community should fill this gap?
Does your child have a village? Do you think he or she should?