Nature Deficit Disorder
(* word coined by author Richard Louv who wrote the book
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder)
Not so long ago the biggest worry Parents had over the summer was to keep kids from getting too much sun on their heads. Summer was for lazing in the sun exploring the interesting things around the house and looking in nook and cranies or if you were like most kids the exploration happened at your grandparents house where all semblance of rules or regulations were thrown to the wind. Meals times were for special foods that you craved for. Bolt! Clap! Thunder.... Well I was day dreaming there for a while or maybe it was the sound from DDs computer game. What parents worry about today is that kids these days are having less and less of unstructured time. No spontaneous games or role playing so much so that kids left in the playground to play by themselves or not able to do so, they need rules and regulations. Well I won't go on and on, this topic is HOT as it is.
What as parents can we do keep to bring this deficit down? My favorite season to work on it is during the summer. There is no excuse of bad weather to keep cooped indoors in front of the many electronic equipments we can't live without. Though DD suggested the idea of summer camp, I begged my mother to come and stay with us for the summer so DDs can have a relaxing, carefree time without worrying about too many planned activities. What this has done to their time is,
They wake up at their own covenience, eat a slow breakfast, take long walks, catch some butterflies, with a fish net they fished from the basement, figure out if the butterfly will survive if it is kept in a closed box and should the holes for them to breathe be big or small. This amazingly keeps them occupied for hours together which no video game has the power to do. Rarely have I heard the the oh so familiar whine "I am bored". Eat a relaxing lunch, laze around in the afternoon and then some bicycling in the evening followed by catching lightning bugs as the sun goes down, do some research about the creatures living under rocks, though all of the activities do not happen on the same day it keeps them occupied for most of the day. Being outdoors so much makes them notice things, I was delighted when I heard DD analyze the different colors of purple found in nature, as luck would have it purple is her favorite color and even if I buy flower bulbs of differnt colors and shades they are the only ones that bloom and recently she happened to see a brinjal flower. But this fun is different then the ones we had, we roamed around the whole village just stepping into the house during meal times.
A crow cawing on a bright sunny morning and usually happens when I am driving out to work, brings on a longing for those summer days of my childhood in my grandparents' house and a guilt that DDs don't get to have that experience of swimming in the rivers, swimming in wells, fishing in the ponds, climbing on mango trees and being bitten by ants. Sometimes the trees we climbed on and the wells we jumped into belonged to people who did not want us there and we got chased by these angry people with a stick in hand which was a game in itself. I have no recollection of ever being caught by these angry people though.
With my mom here, DH's aunt visiting us for this week and DD's friend here during the day for 2 weeks we have a full house and it is such a joy and this is what I miss the most about India the PEOPLE.
I was listening to the Diane Rehm show on WAMU when I heard author Richard Louv talk about his book Last Child in the Woods and it struck a chord but that was a long time ago but what brought about this bout of introspection was the news of Lady Bird Johnson and reading and about her tireless work for conservation and love of wild flowers.
Sandeepa has posed the question if DD missed not going to camp? Her answer was "I have never been to a camp". But DD's friend answered the question to her mom last summer. She wanted to stay home and not go to camp which required keeping a schedule. unScheduled unHurried is what makes them happy is my final conclusion
Also posted on my blog Daily Musings.