I was taking the trash out last night when I ran across two boys playing near the dumpster. I had a good idea as to what they were doing.
You see, there is a raccoon that hangs out at the dumpster. He scared the crap out of me one night when I was taking out the garbage. I hear this noise that sounded like a grown man rumbling around in the refuse. I stopped in my tracks. Frozen. Then out comes “Corleone” ( I named him that because he waits in the dumpster for others to bring him gifts. In return, he won’t pee on your welcome mat. It’s an offer you can’t refuse). Corleone looks at me. I look at him. It’s like he’s saying, “Whatcha bringin’ me, homie?”
Each of the boys had a broken chair leg that they were using as “guns”. It was obvious they knew they were up to no good. Not anything bad, really. They simply had a mischievious look about them. As I approached the dumpster, the oldest of the two boys looks at me and says, “There’s a raccoon in there!”
“I know,” I replied. “You guys need to be careful, because…”
The younger boy interrupts. “I bopped him in the nose!”
“You did?” I asked with interest.
“Yeah! Bopped him right in tha nose!”
“Well, you guys don’t need to do that. Raccoons can carry diseases, including rabies. If he bites you, you’ll get really sick and could die.”
The older one, trying to show himself responsible (yet was in the center of the mischief before I came out, I’m sure), says to the younger, “Yeah. YOU shouldn’t be messin’ with that raccoon. You could get rabies and DIE!”
The younger one says, “Yeah. And I bopped him in the nose! Let’s go tell the other kids. Bye, Mister”.
As the boys ran off to play, I couldn’t help but think about my own children. It was nice to see those boys playing under the cool evening sunshine. They were using their imaginations, creating games (and a little mischief, of course). This is how I would spend summer vacation. Playing outside and letting the day take me wherever it chose to go. Summertime was kinda like my own ”Choose Your Own Adventure” book.
It is a struggle at times to get some children to go outside and play. They would rather watch television, play video games, or play on the computer. Maybe that’s the problem. Kids today have more stuff to fill their time (and minds) than we ever did as children. These things take up the space in a kid’s mind that used to be occupied with (dare I say?)…imagination.
Television and video games feed our kids whatever message they want to push into our living rooms and into their brains. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against these things altogether. I enjoy Sons of Anarchy and Modern Warfare 3 as much as the next middle aged man. However, I balance that out with reading, writing, and other endeavors that allow me to use my imagination.
As parents, we need to encourage our kids to go out and “play in the sunshine“. Part of that is going out and doing things with them. Remember how much fun it was to climb a tree, throw water balloons, or play “Kill The Man With The Ball”? Close your eyes for a minute and think about that game you used to play. I bet it brought a smile to your face.