Our Time Press witnessed a few hours in the lives of these incredibly bright, self-directed and motivated youngsters recently. We were impressed with how they interacted with nature, using elements in the environment as tools for having fun.
The children played around a maple whose fallen leaves were transformed into tools for building. For pitching. For hiding-and-seeking. For adventure. They were oblivious to the camera, and created their own “photo-ops.”
Being “bored” was not an option. Even a long bright-red fire truck parked nearby became a learning lab – with the firefighters responding to the kids’ questions.
After a while we left them alone.
Some 20 minutes later as dusk advanced, they approached a property owner: Do you need any help cleaning up the leaves in your yard? We can pick them up and bag them for you.
The owner gave them each a $3 raise on their $2 each request for 40 minutes of work for a job well-done. The junior landscapers’ immediate chorus of “Thank yous” was more than worth the payout.
Yet, the sound of children playing and laughing, a rare occurrence, these days, was worth it, too.
While all of us – parents, neighbors, and politicians – spend a great deal of time fighting to keep monsters and monstrosities at bay, the message of Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods” and founder of the Children & Nature Network, cannot be lost: we need to take even more action “to create a future in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives.”
We also see that when children are allowed to be children, they too can partner in raising the village – to paraphrase an African proverb.
At the end of that leafy day, a cell phone, pulled out of the pocket of the oldest child, was not meant to connect to distraction – as we initially thought; it was used as a tool to capture an image of an old metal spike. It promptly was given to the property owner.
Our Time Press thanks Ms. Jodi Stariknok, mother of two of the children, for her assistance with this piece.
(Text: Bernice Elizabeth Green/Photos: Green and David Mark Greaves.)