My mother never hovered over me. She shooed me outside and went about her business; baking, cleaning, and visiting with her friends. I don’t think she ever thought twice about any of this. Children played outside so that moms could get something done.

Today, I watch my daughter playing with her blocks on the floor, the sun catches her in the eyes and she frowns and moves. She has the palest blue eyes which seem to be more sensitive to the sun. She is chatting to herself about the castle she is building and the baby princess that is sleeping and the dinosaur sisters that sit and watch over the kingdom.

I sometimes feel a guilt and I’m not sure where it comes from. Should I be playing with her? Should I be teaching her letters right now? Should I be down there on the floor so that she knows that I love her?

But then I think of the shooing.

I often shoo her and her brother outside. Even though we live in the forest and there are wild animals out there. Once, when my son was three, he was relaxing in his hammock and a bear walked within ten feet of him. He ran inside, scared but exhilarated. He still remembers every moment. There are other animals; coyotes, mountain lions, owls. Something could eat them and I make them play outside. Their only rule is that they don’t play alone at twilight.

Today, we are told that we must watch our kids’ every movement, prevent every bad choice, protect, hover. We are told to make little bubble-wrapped children looking outside through a sparkling clean window. Outside, there are dangerous things and people. Yes.

And with every hovering moment, I think we steal something from them. A memory, a realization, a story. When my husband was six, he was walking alone through the forest and he fell on his hatchet. He then made the terrible choice to pack the wound with Mississippi river mud, just like the indians. Thus, he has a large scar trailing down the side of his waist. And he has a story for his life.

Our scars are the maps of our stories. If we bubble-wrap our children, their bodies will be smooth and unblemished, but they will also be like direction-less maps. Maybe they won’t know where to go with them.

I will continue to shoo because I love them. And because I can’t stand the thought of my kids growing up without a sense of freedom. Without a sense of being in their bodies as they clamber over rock forts and fall out of trees and make good and bad choices that have nothing to do with me.

I lived a whole life that my mother didn’t even know about, and I want that for them. A life. And some scars.

7 thoughts on “They Don’t Play Alone At Twilight

  1. Nicola says:

    Great post! I hope I can do the same when my little one is that age!

  2. Shauna841505 says:

    Your title brought me in, because my husband and I were literally just talking about this last night. We don’t have children yet, and he said, “remember when we were kids and our parents let us play outside until it was dark?” And we were sad for a moment thinking about how where we live now, we could not let our child play outside unattended, it’s just not safe enough. We live in the same city he grew up in, but it’s just different. Here’s to hoping we can move away from here before we’d ever have children to worry about!

    1. joellewisler says:

      Good luck!!! Sounds like you guys will be great parents!

  3. I love your attitude. I was one who played outside until dark.

    1. joellewisler says:

      Me too! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. ghoffer says:

    We just moved to a more rural part of NY, and our house is separated from our neighbors by one of those wooden posts fences. They have three girls who are about 4, 6, and 9. The other day I heard them playing outside with their dog and they invited my 3 year old son to play with them. He was so happy, and I was able to go back to our house and take care of some things. Of course I had that slight bit of mom worry, but I knew he was ok. And when the girls had to go in, the oldest walked him back to our door. It was adorable, and showed that kids deserve more credit than we give them sometimes.

  5. Beth says:

    I whole-heartedly agree! Well said!

Leave a Reply to joellewisler Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: