We would spend the next few hours calling the weather man on the phone every 15 minutes until he finally said that magical number. "You're Sprint/Centel time is 9:06 AM, Temperature 80 degrees." I don't remember if we ever even shut the door (or hung up the phone) on our way to freedom, we would just go. Running, often barefoot, into the arms of our awaiting friends whose mothers
We would run until our lungs felt like they would grow their own legs and sprout from our chests. Run until the beating of our hearts was audible to the person next to us. We would build forts, flip bicycles over to sharpen sticks against the tires, collect rocks, lightning bugs, or lizards, there was never an adventure too far or too impossible.
We would stay out until we saw my dad's car pull into the driveway. The neighboring kids, afraid of my father, would wander back to their own homes and we would go inside to do chores, eat dinner, etc. By the end of each summer, our skin dark and brown, cheeks pink with too much sun, we were reluctant and excited to go back to school, knowing that soon we would have to wait another year to regain our freedom and that we would only see glimpses of it at recess on the playground.
Now, when we send Z or the godsons outside to play, they stand there, digging their toes into the sand, going in and out of the house every few seconds. They have no idea what to do outside. They wander, looking around at nothing, kicking at the grass. Of course, when they are inside they are constant and endless founts of energy, jumping on and off of the couch, running from room to room, hurling themselves across the room into the nearest pieces of furniture.
My parents never would have tolerated this behavior. Then again, my parents never had to come out to show us how to play - what is wrong with these kids?
Z has never played a video game, never been on a computer (except to Skype with her cousin a few times). I think I might keep it that way until she starts school. There is something about physical play that seems far more important than knowing how to use technology that will most likely be obsolete a few years from now anyway.
Hopefully, by then, she will care more about how quickly she can get out the door to play.