I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Rain for days

Carpet of pink

We were on track to have the driest April on record, or close to it, when it began to rain on Thursday, which caused me to skip my usual hike. We now have had plenty of rain, for days on end, with more to come. I guess somewhere around an inch has fallen here, bringing some of the flower petals down from these lovely pink blossoming trees. It makes for a pretty scene.

Yesterday, I went to the coffee shop and found my two hiking friends unwilling to venture out into the heavy rain. So, I decided too that maybe it was a better idea to stay inside myself, rather than walking in it. I went grocery shopping and then headed home. By around 2:00 in the afternoon, the rain had dwindled to just a few sprinkles, so I went out for a nice three-mile walk. Since I was alone, I listened to a podcast, one of my favorites, Hidden Brain, the latest episode of which was about how children need to have some time to play without parental supervision. The host brought up some interesting research that shows how important it is for kids to be allowed to play in their own ways, not necessarily following the rules set up by others.

He reminded us of the book written by William Golding in 1954, Lord of the Flies, a classic novel about a group of British schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island and their descent into savagery. It explores themes of power, human nature, and the dangers of mob mentality. Then, in 1965, a real situation occurred with six young Tonga boys stranded on a desert island for 15 months. Their full story is told here.
In June 1965, six Tongan teenage boys set out on an adventure that turned into a real-life version of “Lord of the Flies.” The boys, stranded on the uninhabited island of ‘Ata for more than a year, survived by relying on primitive instincts, teamwork, and an innate desire to live.

 It seems that the desire for cooperation and to survive is more likely to happen when all involved are willing to work together and find a way than the more pessimistic view that young people without supervision are likely to turn into savages. In any event, the podcast host suggests that children need to find ways to play that allows for creative thinking. 

It made me think back to my own childhood, spent playing unsupervised with my sister Norma Jean, who is more than two years younger than me. We were often told to "go outside and play" when doesn't happen much these days. Apparently children are supposed to be supervised by an adult at all times in most settings, not allowed to have unsupervised playtime. I think this is caused partly by the fact that there are so many more people now than when I was young a half-century ago. And there is now a fear of "stranger danger" that might have existed when I was young, but nothing like today's situation, with sick predators seeming to concentrate on kidnapping young children.

Life is definitely more complicated for kids today than it was when I was young, but I think it's important for parents to find ways to allow their children to find out what they are best at, what makes them happy. One researcher said he believes that many of today's unhappy children need to learn to play, and that the opposite of happy play is depression. That explains to me something I've wondered about: why are so many kids today filled with anxiety? Perhaps the remedy is finding ways to let them express themselves with one another without an adult telling them how to do it.

My memories are full of happy times that the two of us, me and my sister, would explore the neighborhood, finding what lay ahead in the next street. We had each other, and that was enough. Back then it was acceptable to tell your kids to "go outside and play."

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.  —Graham Greene

I am not fortunate to have any young children around me these days. Those grandparents who are able to be around theirs are very lucky indeed. I am not in situations where kids hang out, but I suppose if I wanted to, I could volunteer at an elementary school. But I don't think that's what I'd most like to do with the remaining days and years I might have ahead of me. Instead, I am happy to hang out with my fellow hikers, most of whom are a bit younger than me, even though they are seniors. I am quickly growing into the "really old" category, not just someone in her sixties, or even seventies, but dipping into the category of someone in her eighties. It's a different place, let me tell you. If you're lucky, one day you'll find out yourself. The chasm between a toddler and someone like me is vast. Maybe that's why grandparents were invented, eh?

It's still raining. As I sit here in the dark, I can hear the rain drumming on the roof, but I know that John will be here in a short while to take me to our breakfast place. When I come home, my dear partner will be up and about, and we'll probably spend some time talking about what we intend to do with the day ahead. I give thanks for his presence in my life every day. Just like my sister was my childhood companion, he is my current confidant and friend. 

I am quickly running out of time to be sitting here writing. It's time to start getting out of bed, finishing up this post, and getting on with my day. And I always give thanks for the presence in my life of you, my virtual family. It is much less lonely to have your virtual hand to hold when I'm in need. I do hope the coming week will be a good one for you, and that you will be surrounded with love and light. Until we meet again, be well.


Barbara Rogers said...

Nothing like squeezing a month's worth of rain into several days! Glad it cleared enough for your walk. I agree completely with the idea of kids being more creative in their play. Hope some parents are able to watch but not interfere with their offspring as they explore.

Rian said...

It's been raining a lot here lately too. Rained hard all night and still raining now. I worry about the ferals when it rains so much. Hope they find a safe dry spot somewhere. I personally like the rain - not the flash flood or tornado warnings - but just a spring thunderstorm. And yes, when we were kids (and when our kids were kids) we/they went outside to play - sometimes all day. Nowadays this doesn't happen. How it affects kids, I don't know. My granddaughter seems to have lots of creative imagination (sometimes too much - ha!).
Sorry you missed your hike, but seems like you got a good walk in anyway. Enjoy your Sunday!

gigi-hawaii said...

That carpet of pink sure is petty. Splendid photo! I think we all (not just kids) should be allowed to play without supervision. Be creative and have fun!

Linda Reeder said...

One of my weather apps says to expect rain at around 3:00 this afternoon. I guess that means it's safe to at least do a yard walk around. We have plants and plant tags to prepare for Wednesday, when we will take them to my sister Laurie for her garden club plant sale. Like you, my husband Tom is my constant companion now, but Laurie was my playmate in my childhood, where we did did plenty of playing outside on our little farm in the Willamette Valley.
Have a good day.
PS. Tom was a kindergarten teacher for many years and believed in learning through play. Now it's all STEM and rushing kids through childhood.

Elephant's Child said...

That pink carpet is lovely - though slippery.
Like you, I was often told to 'go out and play'. And I firmly believe that we all need to play. While stranger danger is real I believe that statistics indicate that children are in most danger from people they know.
Have a wonderful week dear friend. I am so glad our paths have connected.

Rita said...

Been raining here for days and more to come, too. Mostly drizzle or light rain, but the plants are welcoming it vigorously.

We played outside and inside, either together or alone all the time. Guess it was a good thing. Felt like it at the time, I have to admit. :)

Gigi said...

The purpose of childhood is to learn and they can only really learn from doing (unsupervised play, conflict resolution, etc). I think today's children are overly scheduled and supervised within an inch and it shows.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We always encouraged alone time with our girls or creative activities that they could enjoy by themselves. Kids need some space. I see all kinds of unconnected Moms and Dads out there looking at their phones instead of watching their children. I am not sure that is safe. We were lucky enough to live next to a playground for years, no streets to cross. There was always a Mom or two watching...it seems like we all took turns. It was way before Jacob W disappeared here in Minnesota.
Raining here too but we need the moisture. That carpet of pink in so pretty:)

Red said...

You mention the grandparent grandchild relationship. I think there's much more to this relationship. I have had very little to do with my grandchildren. I like children and have children here that I have some time with. I really wonder what it would b like if I had good time with my own grandchildren.

Chris said...

We could do with some rain here in S Wales, would you believe? I too remember playing outside without adult supervision, happy days.

Anvilcloud said...

We were daycare providers for our grands when they were little. It was a good time all in all, but we were younger then.

It has been raining quite a lot here this month, as it is also now at 7:40 Monday morning.

Marie Smith said...

Unstructured play time, especially outdoors is essential to children. Our grandkids are ‘building’ a fort in the woods like we did. They love that time and when they engage like that, our daughter gives them time to do it. My memories of such play are wonderful. Limiting screen time is key and allowing kids to play through the so called boredom of life without a screen.

We are fortunate to live in this place where one doesn’t have to hover to protect children 24/7. That’s not to say kids aren’t supervised but there is a certain amount of freedom which children in many other places do not enjoy.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Like you, my sister and I did not have supervised play out doors. We lived on a farm with a barn and farm animals. We could often be found in the hayloft playing with kittens or in the calf pen with the sweet baby cows, As we grew older we roamed into the woods. I loved to disappear up in a Chinaberry tree where I would write. I don't know how children of today find and use creativity. Stay dry and well, my friend