Free Play


Well, it’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Not for lack of having anything to say. It’s been more of a lack of time, and follow through, with a dash of laziness thrown in for good measure.

The new school year has started up without a hitch so far. Anders and his friends are very busy most days after school, and after their various activities. They have made a secret hangout in the woods. They have been brainstorming how to make it the best it can be, and have put in a lot of hours making it into something. I even let them take some of my Christmas decorations over there so they could decorate it and make it cozy. There has also been need for defense as some older kids have challenged them and set out to destroy their hard work and some younger kids who have threatened to take it over. I know all of this because I hear them talking amongst themselves and I ask questions here and there. I know the hangout is in the woods across from our house, but I haven’t been there. It is theirs after all.

This of course brings me back to my own childhood. I think of all of the secret places we found, the secret clubs that were formed, the hours spent, and how important it all felt at the time. There were conflicts, hurt feelings, confrontations, but also lots of sharing, imagining, and working together. All of this was done without the help of anyone’s parents. We hashed it all out together in our own ways and learned how to deal with conflict, jealousy, joy, excitement, problem solving, and basically figuring everything out on our own. After all, free play is just a fun way to prepare ourselves for society and how we might contribute to it in the future, and how we might react to conflict, creativity, teamwork, etc. once we’re grown up.

I feel sincerely grateful that Anders gets to participate in these types of activities, as this would never have been an option where we lived in the US. The kids were more spread out and there would be too many parents saying it might be dangerous. Some might worry about kidnapping, getting lost, getting hurt, or protecting their feelings and making sure there are no conflicts. Some might feel the need to be close by to remind their kids to “be careful” and “watch out for that branch over there,” etc. I know I have those tendencies and have been slowly letting go over the last year and a half. But I have learned that when things are too tough, Anders will ask questions and ask for help to try to solve problems. He tells me his feelings about the things that happen so that we can walk through them in the aftermath. I feel that he has matured so much in many ways.


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