When I was raising my kids in the 80’s and 90’s, I refused to have cable, internet, or video games in the house. They spent a LOT of time outside.
When my daughter, Corrie, was about 13 or so, she could feel her childhood slipping away. One day she asked me to take a walk with her….and we spent the whole afternoon walking through the pages of her childhood.
She took me down an alley, then stopped at a privacy fence and said, “Look through that knot hole. The guy has a Japanese garden in his back yard! We watched him build it! He adds new stuff every so often. Isn’t it cool?!” It was VERY cool.
South Western College campus was their play ground. She showed me a funky tree on campus that had limbs that grew almost horizontally to the ground. She said kids would collect there and sit on the limbs and make plans for when they grew up.
It wasn’t just the campus…they knew the buildings inside and out too. She took me to the new science building they had put up a couple of years before. She showed me where Alvin the Alligator’s living place was. She described where he lived in the old building and how much nicer his new digs were and how much happier he was….until one day he wasn’t there any more. He had died. She took me on a tour of the whole building. Really NEAT stuff in there! Then we snuck out a back door before we got chased away!
She took me to so many, many secret places around town and told me the stories and memories that were tied to each one. I could sense that she didn’t want it all to end, didn’t want to close that book, but she couldn’t stop it. It was a tide relentlessly sneaking up to claim her childhood, and she could sense it coming. It brings tears to my eyes to this day. It was one of the most precious moments I’ve ever spent with one of my kids.
And then my baby started slipping away after that, stolen by the tide and boys and bad attitudes. I turned around twice, and she was having children of her own. But I’ll never, ever forget that walk that day.