In more ways than one, I’m beginning to realize that I’m in a partnership with my wife in raising a wild child. Two of them, actually. It’s true that our oldest son is daily gaining energy and exuberance much the same way that a hunting dog gains speed and lack of bladder control at the sight of its owner carrying a shotgun. But, the wild children that we’re overseeing the development of are much more than wild in ambition and energy.
The other evening we were settling in as a family for a rare movie night. Rare because we don’t normally watch these types of movies – the pick this particular evening was “Horton Hears a Who.” We settled in on the couch with the lights off and the screen dark, our children silent in their anticipation. Then the screen brightened as the movie and the music began to fade in. Our youngest immediately perked up – and let out a ringing, ear piercing bugle – complete with chuckles and all. I felt a mix of emotions – partially proud that at 18 months he could likely win an elk calling contest – but also, sad that he was about to be disappointed when he realized this movie wasn’t our usual elk hunting movie. And, sure enough – as the movie came on, it didn’t take long before he was bored. I guess Dr. Seuss can’t quite hold his attention like Will Primos.
When we visit friends, their children want to play things like tag or hide-and-seek, or pretend they’re some kind of super hero. Our three year old hardly even knows how to play tag or hide-and-seek, and super heroes are completely foreign to him. But, he loves to pretend he’s hunting – unfortunately, many of his playmates don’t know how to play that game. I’m continually amazed at how many different species that kid can bag in a five-minute span.
It can be difficult finding the energy and time to take the kids exploring some of our great local adventure spots. Whether it’s hiking the steep hills around Brownlee or simply taking advantage of the local Weiser Community Pond, there always seems to be some obstacle. Most of the time the obstacle is all in my head – I feel there isn’t enough daylight, or I don’t feel like I have the energy, or , or, or… I’m inspired when I see a young father or mother taking the time to allow their children to explore the outdoors with them. I know our society is becoming increasingly indoor oriented, as that is certainly the easier, more tempting route to take in raising a child. But, the benefits of seeing the joy on their face as they discover things in nature is worth any effort it takes to get them outside.
I grew up a wild child – free to roam and always exploring. It was the best childhood – even if sometimes lonely. As I entered into my teen years and video games hit the market, I became on of “those” kids. I loved video games – and my free roaming childhood ended. Looking back, I’m saddened that I drifted from my wild roots during those years, but I promise to give my children every opportunity to enjoy the freedom of being a “wild” child.