"When I was a young toddler my parents didn’t enrol me to ballet classes, instead I danced in our empty living room. I didn’t go to rock climbing lessons but instead I climbed the backyard hill which was my Everest. I played outside with my neighbours’ kids, all together, regardless of age differences, so it was completely natural for a 3 year old to play with a teenager.
Sometimes my mum would sit outside with other mums, watching me from a distance while chatting, socialising, having her own fun. But most times I was out on my own, and she would just take a quick glimpse occasionally to make sure I was alright.
I learnt to swim in the Mediterranean ocean as we just cycled to the nearest beach daily once I was at an age where I could sit on my mom’s bicycle with her.
I didn’t have a busy afternoon schedule and when I asked my parents to help me find something to do because I’m bored, they would always send me to find it by myself.
Regardless of how much I protested I normally found the solution independently, and that might have been one of the following: creating an imaginary game such as watching the clouds for hours and finding creatures or patterns in them and inventing stories about it, or laying under a big eucalyptus tree and having deep and meaningful conversations with it, drawing for hours, building fantasy castles, or just singing and dancing, have been my solutions to “what should I do now”. All those things that kids do if given the opportunity to have enough time with nothing to do.
My childhood was a lot about open fields with lots of trees and orchards, flowers and herds of sheep. It was also a life under the threat of war, when fathers were suddenly called in the middle of the night to put on their uniforms, to pick up their guns, and say goodbye to their children, while us kids ran to the bomb shelters. Israel of those days was a lot about immigrants building a country while grieving for those that were lost in the holocaust. However, despite of the gloomy reality, my childhood was also full of magic, love, laughter, real friendship and connections and I couldn’t wait to re-live it through the eyes of my own children.
When I eventually became a mum, the world was already so different to the world of my childhood, and with my children growing up it was shifting faster than ever, so my parenting style adjusted with it. As I gradually didn’t feel confident anymore to allow them to wonder around the block without close supervision, the spontaneous play that I had as a kid had to be carefully organised. As I’m part of this era I understand why parents has to became more vigilant and driven to control every aspect of their children lives as it doesn’t feel safe otherwise. Furthermore, we all feel the pressure of the demand to prepare them to survive a faster, smarter, more sophisticated world.
However, I believe that despite our limitations and worries we can still allow our kids some space to be bored, to take their time, to struggle and make mistakes, to practice freedom and learn that like everything this practice has the potential to result in joy and pain. This is my attempt to deliver an empowering massage to parents to give their children time and space to ‘just be’, to allow them to find their own adventures and discoveries even if it means stumbling on their way while we let them get into the mud of what this life is all about.