Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Have wheels, will travel in the neighborhood.

August 17, 2009

There are lots and lots of kids on bicycles in this neighborhood. I can remember those days, when a bike was your ticket to freedom, your vehicle for travel. Under age 14, it is very cool to have a cool bike and be able to ride “no hands”. At around 13, that isn’t so cool anymore, but you still can’t drive, so you still ride a bike.

There are small groups of boys who ride bikes on the streets of the neighborhood. Ages 8 to about 12. They ride around on the trails, stop at the pond and try to fish, go to someone else’s house, ride to a recreation area park, and just travel the area. It seems like a step back in time, to live here. I cannot imagine being a child and growing up here, with no fear, able to hang out with your buddies by the pond and just talk at the picnic tables, have friends all around you, go swimming at the community neighborhood pool, maybe catch a few frogs or toads, a turtle, or try to fish with a little string and bait. What a relaxed atmosphere.

I don’t see many girls hanging out, and I don’t see teenagers. I don’t know where the teenagers go in Chapin, to hang out. One young group of girls the other day, had made bracelets and were walking around the neighborhood, giving them away. Very small children are usually with their parents. Oftentimes a parent will be jogging beside a child in a motorized car or bike. Another form of “wheels” is motorized scooters. They are really funny to me, because we didn’t have those when I was a kid.

It just seems to be an amazingly safe and relaxed place for kids to grow up.

You wonder, though, whether kids growing up here will have a sense of the suffering in the world. Like some of my college students, it never touched them so they don’t really have a concept of world poverty, can’t really get their heads wrapped around the idea. We talk about how so many billion people live on what would  equal to $1.00 a day in the US. But it’s hard to believe something exists when you feel the world is basically open and fair, and safe. You tend to think all people can have those things.

‘Abdu’l-Baha once said, accustom children to hardship. Most parents cannot get that job done, in a conscious way. For us, it happened, but just due to accident and circumstance. Hard times we went through with our kids taught them the meaning of scrimping and poverty, like no textbook ever could. They know the feeling of being the kids on “free lunch” and being treated differently in school because they didn’t have the latest designer clothes, shoes, make-up or bookbag. They lived in hardship. For quite a few years. And I think they are better for it. It was hard on them, but when they look poverty in the eye, when they see someone else suffering, they may tend NOT to blame the individual. They may rather see “there, but for the grace of God, goes I.” They have LIVED it, they KNOW.  Many of our friends’ kids have no concept of that, no understanding. For us, it just happened.

“While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty. Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind.”

 (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 129)


all of us at Table Rock cabin

June 16, 2009

cabin photo