Do you remember what it feels like to pretend to be one of the Goonies and go on a treasure hunt? The excitement of finding the pirates’ gold and jewels and getting chased by the bad guys while avoiding booby traps? As a kid growing up in a small community in Maryland, I remember we used to play in the woods behind our house and just let our imaginations run wild. We would gather all the neighborhood kids and my dad’s enormous VHS recorder and write up scripts of mystery to be performed in the backyard. We would even record comedy reenactments from shows like “In Living Color,” which to this day make me laugh out loud. We would also make pretend diaries that we would bury, then dig for, and when we found them they would tell of the “olden days” and the people who lived there before us. Sometimes those people had been buried in the basement walls and would come to life, scaring the heck out of the neighbor kids who dared to enter our haunted house. This is what we did growing up. We played!
I bring this up because I have had a soft spot lately for the kids of today. With all that is going on in the world and with the crazy indulgence of screen time I wonder, do kids know how to be kids? Maybe I am getting nostalgic as a grown child of the 1980s. I simply think that those of us from that era had just about the best of everything. The music rocked, the movies were the best and the clothing and hair … forget about it!
For those of you who can understand where I am coming from know that it is more than just getting lost in fantasy such as “The Never Ending Story,” but also the truth of reality like in The Great Outdoors. So, how do we grab our kids of today and make them realize that if we put on an imagination hat we can wander into the woods and create the best kind of summer? Have we lost that sense of creativity ourselves during this madness or has it been a wonderful opportunity to walk down memory lane and enter the land of fantasy, dreams, and adventure?
In revisiting what it means to be a child recently, with some opportunity to play with the youth of today, I realize how much fun it really is. There is no shortage of ideas to keep all generations out of their heads. The other day we washed the dog outside and it was so fun that the kids put up signs and offered to wash people’s dogs as they walked by. It was a hit! We then created a scavenger hunt by rhyming clues and hiding them all over the yard, then in the house when it rained. The end result was a basket filled with candy, which was a reward for all of us.
And what about art? Even just the smallest idea can easily go on for hours if given the right thought. We did a hike along the river trail finding items that resonated with us and the feeling of summer; a few fallen pine cones, aspen leaves and rocks that looked like arrow heads. We then created a personal mobile with fishing line and a stick. The concentration to tie little knots along with the measurements to make it even were a great way to slow us down and just be in the moment with nature, art and our personal creativity.
These are a few ideas to share in case you are in need of a break from the stressors we face today. As we cannot plan for things such as concerts, plays and even dream vacations, we can invite our imaginations to take us away. Going back to the memories of my childhood we recently introduced my nephews to the Flintstones cartoon. What a hit that was! They began asking their grandma questions such as when Pebbles was born. It filled the generations with such joy that my mom told me it used to air in the 1960s at 8 p.m. and was a gathering for the whole family to watch. This is a far cry from watching the evening news on television today while kids sit in another room with their iPads, thus creating major separation.
I realize now more than ever we are searching for new ideas to keep things interesting. But I do believe that if, as adults, we can take a moment to remember what made us excited as children, then we can connect more than ever to our youth and the kid inside each one of us. There has been a theme on Facebook of writing in your favorite albums and movies of all times or the first concert you went to. It is fun to think back to those days. I even wondered if I still had that George Michael “Faith” T-shirt. As the memories of the kids today are being scarred with a major pandemic, don’t forget that they are still being molded into the people they will become. And if we can intervene and get some laughter in an evening of bonding over a classic movie, maybe even while camping in the backyard, then we can still make this one of the best summers of their lives. Even if you have to invite John Candy to make it happen. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind!