Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Need to Loosen Up

A few days ago Laura (my wife), Levi and I were driving down the road past one of the few empty lots on Southern California and were shocked to see a group of kids playing on the hillside there. My immediate reaction was surprise at being shocked! I'm an outdoorzy rough-and-tumble kinda guy, not overprotective at all right? After thinking about it, I realized I cannot remember the last time I saw children playing outdoors, short of skating down the street towards the Etnies skatepark. Part of my reaction I'm sure was because of that, but what I noticed most is the fact that my first thought was "Is the hillside safe for kids to play on?"

If you've read any previous posts you may remember this one talking about parents limiting their kids activities like tag because they might get hurt being physical. I obviously look down on this attitude and was taken aback by my own proclivity to react in a similar way to those over-protective parents. I rant and rave about kids not being allowed to act like kids, yet when I see that my first reaction is exactly what I don't want it to be?

I'll choose to ignore my hypocrisy and instead focus on how society did this to me, thus removing any personal responsibility from the equation. Living in the concrete-covered land of opportunity and wealth that is Orange County California, it's now the norm for kids to spend their non-school time in the comfort of their rooms as they all have their own computers, tv, Playstation, X-Box, Wii, etc etc. After a while we just expect that and lower our own school of thought to the societal norms (kind of like many other aspects of American life). Instead of seeing something detrimental and wanting to change it, we gradually accept it in a "when in Rome..." attitude. As a new father I'm trying my best to re-learn and focus on what experiences my son will be able to look back on when he's older, and what shapes his personal ethic, what he sees and reads about on a computer screen, or what he experiences with his own senses?

I want my son to grow up knowing what the world is like outside the front door. Whether its in the local mountains or on the local beaches, or China, Australia, or Iceland. There is a slim chance of that happening if I'm going to get all wobbly-legged at the sight of him playing on a hillside. That's where most of us are. We all could use some loosening up.