The house I grew up in has an immaculate front porch. The floor is black and white smooth concrete tiles that used to function as a very large checkerboard while we were growing up. We would save tuna cans, remove the labels and paint them black and white to use as “checkers.” The porch was also a very good stage, a practice pad for jumping rope and a viewing room for spectacular Midwest thunderstorms. It was also fun to clean. Yes. Clean. My best friends and I would take off all the furniture, plug the drainage holes with rags and the stairways with benches and spray down the porch with soap and water. It turned into a poor man’s “slip-n-slide,” if you will. And it provided endless hours of entertainment during hot Nebraska summers.
This makes me think a lot about children today and what I feel is a lack of outdoor play time and creativity. Okay, okay…that’s bold (and I don’t have kids, so what do I know), but I was reading an article a few months ago about the effects of the recession on families. The article was talking with parents about what they had to cut out of their budgets, which included video games and DVDs for their kids. (Note: They were interviewing middle-to-upper class nuclear families.) And I didn’t feel sad for them. In fact, couldn’t help but think…good! Send them outside. Give them sticks and cardboard boxes and encourage them to create magical worlds or give them sheets and blankets to make forts!
It is harsh to say that this recession is a good thing…because it isn’t and I am thankful and grateful every day that I have a job. But there is part of me that thinks this current economic climate has a silver lining. We live in a world that is more and more isolating and perhaps this will encourage kids, families, everyone to rediscover board games, books, the great outdoors, good conversation and simply – the company of others.