Adam and I had been trying to think of things to do with the kids…

…and then I followed a link on Blue milk’s blog to Gever Tulley giving a brief talk on the topic of 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do. Now we’re positively full of ideas!

I emailed the link to the video to Adam and he replied thusly:

Perhaps we could do all at the same time, I have an old laptop. We could
give them a pocket knife they could use it to disassemble the laptop while
it is on fire and ripping music, in the passenger seat of the MPV…..

See? Fun for all the family 🙂

Seriously though, when I was watching the video it was brought home to me with some force that there is a whole bunch of experiences that I had growing up which our kids haven’t had nearly as much exposure to and I reckon it’s time we did something about that.

Let’s see how my childhood measured up against the list of things Gever talked about.

  1. Play with fire – we went camping multiple times a year when I was growing up and we very often had an open camp fire. Building the fire, feeding it as it burned down, cooking our own twist bread (we used a damper recipe for the dough) on sticks over the coals, no doubt giving my parents heart failure at every turn…good times.
  2. Own a pocket knife – I must admit the actual owning of a pocket knife came a little later in my teen years but I seem to remember that before the one that belonged to me there was one I’d pinched from my dad.
  3. Throw a spear – hmmm. We certainly played with sticks quite a bit. And there was plenty of throwing of rocks either off bush ledges or skimming on water. It’s different to throwing a ball I think, finding something on the ground, feeling its heft in your hand, estimating how it will travel through the air. Javelin throwing, I’ve done that too, but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen till high school. Fun though.
  4. Deconstruct appliances – Yep, definitely used to do this. When something stopped working I would pull it apart, fiddle with it and then put it back together again. Sometimes it would even begin working again. We used to have an ancient and unreliable tape player that would, every so often, eat my tapes. When that happened I would calmly stop the player and grab a screwdriver. Seeing as I remember the tape this happened to most often being the sound track to the Robin Hood movie I’m pretty sure I was fairly young when I began doing this.
  5. Break the DMCA – well, I was a dab hand at making tape copies of vinyl records, and recording songs from the radio, that was an exercise in intense concentration and required devoting vast amounts of time to sitting with finger poised over the record button listening for the first note of the song you were waiting for to begin playing, kids these days don’t know how good they’ve got it!
  6. Drive a car – did this on a Scripture Union camp when I was, I think, about 12 years old. Also sprained my ankle on that camp, rode a horse bareback (not connected) and chased a lot of mice (it was during a mouse plague and we were camping out in sheep country).

That was fun, I don’t often think about my childhood and I don’t have a huge number of clear memories from when I was young but it’s interesting to me that thinking about these things brought up some of my favourite memories. Things that involved being independent, exploring the world, figuring stuff out for myself. Things like pretending to be Ned Kelly in the bush with my cousins when we were camping at Megalong Valley (that’s the rock throwing one – the mind boggles!), blunting the blade of a pocket knife in the quest for a perfect twist bread stick, lying on a grassy slope in the camping ground at Bundanoon at night looking at the stars with my Grandad’s binoculars (ok, they didn’t really make any difference in what we could see but that wasn’t the point), falling in the creek fully clothed in the middle of winter at Megalong Valley, rummaging through my Grandad’s tools (he’d been a builder by trade) – which Dad had inherited and were sitting largely unused in our garage – to find what I needed to fix or make something. There’s more of course but I shan’t drag you any further down memory lane just now.

Time to get ourselves sorted and with our Huscarls kit and get along to one of their camps, there ought to be plenty of these sorts of experiences to be had there, apparently it is standard practice for the kids to all bugger off after breakfast and not be seen again till dinner time. Adam is sewing authentic type clothing for the kids as I type and there is leather working stuff strewn all over the coffee table, he’s been making belt pouches for everyone. We’re making progress…ok he’s making progress, I’m just making supportive noises from the lounge.

Blue milk’s post was actually about parenting styles and whether or not we are the parent we want to be. I guess I’d have to say yes, I am. I’m not perfect, no where near in point of fact, but I reckon I’m doing an ok job most of the time And I’m me, not someone else. I don’t want to be anyone else. I lean more towards the slow parenting model rather than that of hyper-parenting (wouldn’t have the energy for that :P), I’m fairly relaxed, I prefer to let my kids amuse themselves, I want to foster independence in my kids –
“Muuum, can I have breakfast?”
“Certainly, feel free to help yourself, and while you’re at it put the kettle on and make me a cup of tea”
– or maybe I mean servitude, it’s hard to tell. LOL There are things I’d like to do a bit better or a bit different but on the whole it seems to be working so I guess if it ain’t broke….

6 Responses to “Adam and I had been trying to think of things to do with the kids…”

  1. Ariane says:

    For me one of the most vivid memories I have is of getting up at 5am and riding my bike for miles before coming home for breakfast. I used to take fruit with me. And I think I left a note. I’d like to think I did… 🙂 I must have….

    And throwing fruit. Lots of it. Fruit wars.

    Bonfire night… building stuff… drove a tractor at school… The fact that most of these things are out of reach for my kids annoys me, and I am constantly considering what we might do to address that. It’ll become more urgent as they get bigger I suppose.

  2. Megan says:

    I was thinking recently about things I did kids dont get to do now. I remember wandering the streets of Marrickville at 6 or 7 with just my twin brother. Marrickville was pretty rough then too – I can’t imagine letting my kids do that at that age these days – but boy exploring by yourself is a great experience – how can I give that experience to my kids???

  3. Mim says:

    It’s difficult isn’t it? I almost feel like “giving them” the experiences would somehow negate the point of the exercise too. That these should be things they find for themselves rather than have handed to them on a platter.

    I do think camping holidays (whether of the medieval reenactment type or not) have the potential to fit the bill. Anyone want to go camping with us?

  4. Ingrid says:

    Your piece made me think too, as I know I am stricter than I want to be. But then my mother-in-law was saying (as my husband grew up in the same house) that when her children were growing up, there were hardly any cars on the road.Everyone knew everyone. There wasn´t the danger then like there is now.Her children played outside alone the whole time. Mine I always watch (but her children weren´t as cheeky as mine).

    Now there are people wondering around you don´t know. My brother-in-law is disabled and was picked up by someone who we don´t know. Luckily they let him out, but he was 50km away. I think that violence is a bigger issue within the community than in those days. I think as a result we become naturally cautious.

    I think the other issue is that in those days there was more time. No-one watch tv, they played outside. They did things more as a family. I think the pressures on achiveing at school are higher. Everyone had a job in those days.Now you have to spend long hours studying. There are more Government regulations on what you can and can´t allow your children to do. The whole context our children exist in has changed.

    I think camping is a great way. Or travelling. I´ve seen things in other countries I wouldn´t dream of doing in my own. I think also the standards of what we should be allowing our children to do have changed too. For example, the number of parents that won´t let their children get dirty amazes me. I think that you should allow yourself and your children to take a break out of this busy world. Play hooky. Go to the zoo or have some quality time. Real quality where you focus on your children not on the thing you should be really doing at work or thinking about the blog you will write. Create an environment that they can be silly in. Too many children are made to grow up to fast. Be silly with them. Thnaks, it really made me think.

  5. Ariane says:

    I don’t know about the camping, Mim, I want the kids to get icky and up close and personal with creepy crawlies and throw things – I don’t want to! 🙂

    Although I can imagine some Tiona cabin action when Elissa is old enough for that not to be just a horrible thought.

  6. Tracee says:

    It’s tragic we never let kids get into any trouble these days. It’s like we took away their whole job and killed fun.

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