Child’s Play

Oh Where, Oh Where
Do the Children Play?              
by Just Add Kids Founder,
Paula Herrmann

                                                                                                            I was able to take a short trip south for a few days this week. Ah, it was so nice to feel what summer should be feeling like, especially being that it is the end of June, right? Eighty degrees, mild humidity…perfect, in my opinion!

                                                                                                           It was the tri-state area of the Ohio River Valley, an area that I’ve never really experienced, rather have driven through a number of times. This trip brought me through hilly, lush, neighborhoods of the surrounding communities of Cincinnati. Beautiful countryside!  Many things the same as our hometowns here in SE Wisconsin…downtowns rich in history, schools, parks, waterfront destinations, your national chain restaurants and retail stores, and signage unique to each for upcoming summer events.

                                                                                                                                                                              This countryside was explored mostly by car. Warm drives, windows and sunroof open, taking in and enjoying the scenery. In my appreciation, I was struck by one thing that I hope isn’t prevalent, yet goes unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of life as it is here, as I noticed there. I’m going to take note. Read more….

                                                                                                                                                                       Where in the world were the people?

As I mentioned, the weather was perfect. Most of my exploration took place in the early evening. Sure, there were people at restaurants, buying groceries, buying gas. But besides that, parks were empty, sidewalks and streets were free of bikers and pedestrians, no one in the yards. Okay, I mean I did see SOME people, yet, not as prevalent as one would think on perfect summer’s eve. I mean, where were the softball practices? The dog walkers? Now, I only have 2 nights of observation, but those would be Tuesday and Wednesday. I just don’t know.

I think about my family’s neighborhood…nice, suburban, family homes. I reflect on what I think is (and probably 100% of you do) a society of less free play for our kids and more structured schedules. Of course, I do compare my childhood in Green Bay to that of what I see today. I tell my kids I wish for them a childhood of memories I look back so fondly on. And much of those memories include our neighborhood kids playing a pick up game of kick the can, alley alley over, or riding our bikes on the paths in the fields and woods…the bunch of us. Random, kids in and out of play. For hours!

There are many times that I walk in my subdivision, one that was well thought out and designed in the mid 70’s to be very family-friendly. I take in the scenery and the planning of a pond, walkways, community swimming pool, tennis courts and leisure center. There is also this vast, centrally located common open green area that could be nothing more than planned to be a space where kids could gather to play tag, softball, kickball, football. It’s huge, inviting….and…empty.  I’ve seen a group of boys with a convergence of cars put together a game of football on 2 or 3 occasions. That’s it, folks! I can imagine that if we rolled the clock back a few decades that it would be a lively vibrant place were kids would meet up. Not so much, these days.

empty playground 1 empty playground 2

So where do we/our kids spend our time in the midst of a beautiful summer night? I do see the dog walkers, the joggers, etc. Little do I see the kids in packs on bikes cruising through the neighborhood. Rarely do I ever see yard games in action with a group of kids on a random Tuesday or Wednesday summer evening. It can’t be pushed. It wasn’t pushed when I was a kid…it just happened.

I can’t be feeling alone in this. I am quite sure a few of these neighborhoods still exist…those with kid spontaneous play. But, where oh where?

 

 

 Read more…

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