When I was 12, my best-friend turned to me and sighed, “You have such an interesting life.” A decade on, I am now the one sighing this to her, but at the time even if it was true, I didn’t notice that mine was any more interesting than hers or our classmates. To a child, whatever circumstances they are surrounded by, these become their norm.
I think kids are excellent adventure seekers, even the shy ones. A forest reached by climbing a wire fence is a magical fairy land. Strolling through the undergrowth, feeling the low-growing ferns, climbing the flaky-bark trees and taking off shoes to walk through streams are all fantastic adventures to have when you’re 9. Once, my sister and I went through a large forest area behind the home of an amazing woman, where we found a creek with a strong current. We removed our shoes, rolled up our pants and made our way down the stream looking for anything special. However, we looked up at the same time to realise that a giant, black bull was drinking from the creek right across from us. 2 terrified children hauled butt, grabbed their shoes and ran faster than an Olympic sprinter.
Finding your way through a maze is pretty difficult. Especially if that ‘maze’ is a drainage system that runs through town. We once took an adventure through the creek system of our town and it took some effort! One girl cut her toe open and ripped her shirt, but the rest of us were much better at wending through stone paths, wire fences and tunnels. We came out of the system quite a few blocks from the original location and had to traipse back home thirsty, tired but with a good fill of the accomplished explorer.
We also used to enjoy sneaking out of the house in search of chocolate. Together, we would only have about $8, but with that you can buy an alright Easter egg. We would walk along the highway, cut through the carpark of the shopping complex and then explore the shopping mall. We only did this a couple of times, but we were frequent visitors of the display-homes complex (a block where all the houses have been built and decorated for show as examples for the building companies customers) a few blocks away. Amazing houses! Wonderfully decorated! …and our playrooms. Who gets what room? The one decorated like a sailors boat? The one that is entirely gold? Once, though I wasn’t there to see, someone actually cooked in the display kitchen with the display pan and the onions. Because kids don’t care if you’ve spent an hour making the show-house look great for potential home owners, their imaginations are telling them that this is their own adventure home.
Picnics at nighttime at a local park near your house are great. Especially without parents! Heading off to go buy a box of hot chips and chicken then setting up shop over the road under the playground makes dinner time that much better. Unless someone has to pee and brave the dark toilet block – that’s when it’s time to find your way back home before someone wets themselves.
Going to a theme park is pretty fun when you’re a kid, but have you ever gone to one without an adult? Sure, it’s difficult convincing the people to let you in but once they do you get a free reign at an adventure land! Rides, displays, characters dressed up, food, pools – all awesome. Except when your brother and sister get on a ride you don’t want a turn on and the ride ends at a different location than where you get on so you have to run all over the park looking for your family. Though the dramatic run and hug with squeals when you finally find each other is nice. Oh and getting sick at a water park with no parents to take you home sucks. So is losing your brother at the water park and having to be in charge of finding him. Actually, don’t send your young children to theme parks without you. It kinda sucks. Send them when they’re older.
I don’t think I would ever send my future children to an adventure park alone, but the nature walks and town explorations don’t seem too bad. My friends and I were never ‘bad’ children – we didn’t swear at random citizens, or vandalize things, or steal anything – we just kept to ourselves and enjoyed our freedom. Nothing bad ever happened besides that cut toe and ripped shirt, we always returned safe and sound. Would you trust your own children today to explore a forest or swim in a creek? More than that, would you trust the rest of society to let your children be adventurers in peace? Today, it seems like the ‘good’ kids are kept inside and the well, little ferals, are allowed to terrorize the streets while sculling energy drinks and starting fights at McDonalds. I would love for those future kids to learn about freedom, to manage time, how to be safe when out, being responsible for themselves, but it’s hard to know if they’ll be safe while doing it.
It would just be nice if ours wasn’t the last generation to run away from wild bulls or have picnics in the dark or become firm friends through riding a bike.