I don’t claim to know everything, and yet, there are a few unwavering things I know without a doubt in my mind, which pertain to how we are, as a family. One of those things has to do with going places that are deemed ‘fun’ by most people with kids. Places like amusement parks or activities that require lining up for. Places with big crowds that don’t move fast, or at all in some cases.
It’s not like the kids don’t enjoy the 2 minute rides. Of course they do. They are 3 and 6. It’s not that I’m not absolutely delighted at their squeaks of happiness and excitement when they race around on a mini roller coaster or some such thing. I am. I take pictures to prove it.
Prior to the other day’s activity, which involved lining up to take a boat to the island, lining up to get ice cream, lining up to get the kids on a ride, and lining up to wait for the boat to go back to the main land, I can reflect easily and say to myself that the best part of the trip was when we were at the beach picnicking, and the kids ran off to play at the shore of Lake Ontario in the shallow warm waters with buckets and shovels building great forts and dams. Benjamin’s concentration (and protective behaviour toward anyone who dared to ‘help’ him with his volcano), and Sonja’s enthusiasm to ‘want to stay here forever and ever’ draws the line in the sand for me, so to speak.
Everything else was fun in short spurts interrupted by lineups, and agitation.
Which is why I don’t bother going places like this often.
Yet the kids want to experience things like amusement parks. And they should. And they will. We will probably take them to the Canadian National Exhibition later this month, and watch the airshow (and perhaps allow a few rides). It’s part of childhood, it’s part of summer.
Here’s the thing I have observed over my relatively short time a a parent: I am happy to know that my kids (and us parents) are as content, if not more content, to pack up a simple picnic and head to a river to sit and play with sticks and stones for a couple of hours. Or to get on the bikes and head down the path toward the pebble beach and sit and play with stones in the water.
My kids love nature. They enjoyed camping so much because it was so simple: no line-ups, no agitation, just a great big open field full of adventure, activity and constant entertainment with few, if any store-bought toys in hand.
They climb rocks and trees.
They wade in shallow waters and watch fish, and dragon flies, swim and hover around them.
They build forts with stones and rocks.
They interact with the dogs, the ducks, the bugs.
They discover flowers and plants and fungus they haven’t seen in our backyard.
They snack on simple foods by the body of water we happen to hang out by.
They collect fire wood if there is a fire pit.
They choose their own way on their bikes along well marked trails and paths.
They chase butterflies.
And what’s best of all, they are still doing it every year, even at age 6 and a half.
Like I say, I’m glad we have this ability to enjoy the simple things in life. Simple, and mostly free. That is, with the exception of ice cream and popsicles, preferably coming from the ice cream truck who just happens to always know instinctively where the kids are…