Lately we’ve been noticing quite a few children in our neighborhood – seven to nine-year-olds – riding bikes, scooters, playing catch, hula hooping, gathering together, chasing each other, eager to visit with all the dog walkers.
Several of these children really like our Tootsie. They know the routine. Sit down on the curb and she will gladly come to you. One young boy and his friend were skate boarding down the street when he saw us approaching. He immediately jumped off his board and told his friend to do the same. “Put your skate board behind your back. Tootsie is very afraid of them.” What a boy!
Two 8-year-old girls are very special to watch – so busy filling their hours which are theirs to spend. They love to talk, to visit – then are off on their bikes, to check on the status of the baby robin recently fallen out of the nest, find some more treasures for their nature project, claim something from the junk piles awaiting trash pick-up, or seek out their next adventure.
Their adventures are only so because they are discovering them; they are simple and everyday, but they are theirs.
This new burst of youthful activity in our neighborhood has been so refreshing and reminiscent. I vividly recall the freedom, the joy of getting on my bike, checking out my favorite neighborhood spots, looking for the next escapade, relishing this new-found sense of independence, even if only a few blocks from home.
I definitely get the feeling from these children that they are happy with themselves, their friends, even their moments of boredom.
And maybe it will only be until their summer programs begin and they are off again from early in the morning to dinnertime in structured activities. But right now – I sense their spirits high, their confidence and competence emerging as they manage this small gift of freedom, bikes, warm sunny days and longer evenings and “all the world made of faith, trust, and pixie dust”. (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)