I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog: Give Kids the Freedom to Be, to Dream

I lay on an incline a stared up into the warm summer sky. I followed a cloud that looked like a rabbit with ears, nose and fluffy tail. I had time to think and dream big dreams.

This was Wyoming where my father had a church for several years. I loved it. I lived there from third through sixth grade. The town was a dying oil town, where each oil company had its own enclave of houses spread out over several miles with little or nothing in between. Lance Creek weaved through the area along with another creek. Both flowed freely only during the spring thaw. Hills surrounded the odd town.

Without a phone or other way of contacting home, I spent hours in the hills back of our house. I look back and realized I was 10, 11, 12. Yet I had a freedom we seldom allow our kids today. I had a few restrictions.

*I had to let my mom or dad know I was going out into the hills.

*I carried my pocket knife. (Dad, once a medic in WWII, explained what to do if I got bit by a rattler, which were prevalent in the area. Back then, the treatment was to cut an X over the bite, carefully suck out the poison and spit it out. ) He also taught me how to avoid snakes.

*My dad made me promise not to be out after sunset. The reason was simple. Predators came out after dark.

*Finally, if I heard a woman scream, I was to head the other direction as quickly as possible. Bobcats sounded like a frightened woman. Once I stayed out a bit too long. I heard that piercing scream and was headed home, my legs pumping, my stomach churning into a knot. I doubt I ever ran that fast in track. By the time I was in the field close to our backyard, I stopped, totally winded, and walked the last few yards to safety. Such scares never stopped me from going out again to explore, to slide down into the sandy creek bed or to duck into and out of strange formations creating a series of caves and tunnels.

We kids had chores. We had lessons. But we were not always being hauled to one thing after another. I did have clarinet lessons, in school. Had church kids choir practice after school one day a week.

I even had a neighbor with a horse I was allowed to ride fairly often. (Rocket would only try to buck you off if you rode double and tried to get him to go faster than a walk with that load–two wiggly kids.)

But nothing was as precious to me as time alone in the hills exploring or simply staring up at the clouds. I was stronger and better for those times. Today, kids are in so many activities they don’t have time to take a breath. There is no time to simply be, not with video games, and that ever-present cell phone. Maybe we can’t allow kids the freedom I once had, but…

One of the gifts we can give our kids is to cram less into their schedules, choose wisely, and arrange times of quiet without either frenetic activities or technology. Allow them to be challenged by the outdoors or simply to be quiet and appreciate the wonder of creation all around them. Sometimes it is only in the silence dreams take shape.

By Carolyn R Scheidies

Published in Kearney Hub 11/19/2018 as Let kids be kids

Read more about Scheidies in Wyoming in Sagebrush
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