Friday, 10 July 2009

Kids can't climb trees

My son hosted a party last week for his grade school graduate friends. A very well behaved bunch of kids, 24 of them, I actually enjoyed goofing off with them, however being addressed as Mr. Wilson was a bit disconcerting.

At one point someone scrambled up the tree, other tried, and couldn't. Yup, no idea how to climb a tree. I jumped up at one point to the cries of 'how'd you do that so fast! Do it again, I want to see what you did!'

So I jumped down, and within 5 seconds was back up. Not a big deal, it's only a crabapple tree. But the kid who yelled that couldn't figure it out. Too much TV and video games. It proved to me that kids just don't know how to be kids anymore. Kids don't go outside anymore unless they have to! I remember growing up having my dad kick me out on a Saturday, and only let me back in for meals. We spent the day outside biking, climbing trees, skipping stones into the river, searching for crayfish, and generally exploring. That was childhood. Beautiful endless summer days filled with carefree pointless activity and imagination. Looking back, I wouldn't have had it any other way. We learned to have fun with what we had, no Wii, no TV, no cell phones, you get the idea.

A couple of weeks ago I took my son for a long ride, we went back to my old neighbourhood. I wanted to find the old tree we climbed as a kid, and at one point started building a treehouse in it. We did find the tree but sadly, it wasn't half as big as I remember. Everything's bigger when you're 10. But it's still there, now behind a fence on the grounds of a factory, but it still beckons to the brave - climb me.

The kids who tried to climb my crabapple tree know none of this. They know video games and cell phones. That's really too bad. They have no idea how to truly be a child. They are being forced to grow up too fast. Enjoy your life, enjoy your childhood, it only comes once. Climb trees, watch clouds, chase butterflies, use your imagination. Play in the rain, ride bikes, play baseball, frisbee, play with the water hose, whatever, just play. At at certain point in your youth you realize that these things can't be done anymore with the same innocent attitude, when these things become silly, you've grown up. Then you get to my age, and start doing them all over again, silly becomes fun.

My son has started to explore this summer. He's expanded his horizons on his bike, going farther and seeing more. He's not asking for rides as much. I hope his friends will accompany him to the old tree one day, and he can relate the stories I told him. I hope he can inspire his friends to be frivolous and just play. Just be a kid.

It only happens once.



  1. Well said. I wish I could have those days back.

  2. Isn't it strange when people start calling you Mr. Wilson, and you still turn around looking for your dad?
    BTW-kids can still climb trees, as long as they're on their PSPs! Pathetic...instead of skinned knees and broken bones they get text thumb.

  3. There is a game you can climb trees in? I haven't found it yet. In the meantime, I'll be in the tree.


Yell at me...