After yesterday’s post about bikes in the front yard and a mom playing football with her kids, I came across this:
Now for some people, this might be a bit much to have in their front yard (this place doesn’t have a back yard), but these parents of young boys must have decided to let their kids have at it and build a fort – maybe they even helped them. This same yard has a trampoline, a portable basketball hoop on the curb, and a large punching bag hanging from a tree, and the yard isn’t very big. I understand that some neighborhoods can’t allow things like this, but it did my heart good to see this a couple blocks from my house. My neighborhood isn’t too fussy – when we moved here many of the houses were owned by elderly women with beautiful flower gardens, but now it seems like there are kids all over the place. I don’t know the people in this particular house, but I have seen several boys playing in the yard.
I know from my own childhood and that of my kids, and from other kids I’ve talked to that forts are important. When my family had to sell the farm I grew up on because my grandma went to a nursing home (the farm was in her name), my brothers and sister and I were so distraught about losing our fort (or clubhouse as I think we called it), we filled it up with rotten tomatoes and anything else we could get our hands on so that the next kids to live on that farm couldn’t enjoy it. I’m sure they cleaned it up and enjoyed it as much as we did, but that fort meant so much to us. (I would apologize if I could)
Kids need their own space, especially outdoors and especially a space they helped to create. It could be a fort, a tent, or a treehouse – nothing perfect, no designer details, just their own. They’re learning so much – cooperation, collaboration, independence, what works and what doesn’t, how good it feels to accomplish something. There are some things parents could learn too – let your kids be outside as much as possible in all kinds of weather, give them the tools and let them experiment (as long as you’ve taught them how to hammer a nail and use a screwdriver, etc. don’t worry too much about them), provide snacks (it gives you a chance to check up on them without appearing too nosy), be curious and give encouragement but don’t go overboard, take photos, and stand back and smile and enjoy these delightful, ordinary days of raising strong, self-reliant children who can think for themselves. Count your blessings. . .