In my version of the universe, kids need to get outside. They need natural spaces to explore. They need to run and burn off steam. Sticks, rocks, mud, weeds; these are good things.
My bias comes from a youth spent in northern Canada. A summer of sticks and rocks was a welcome change from six months of snowballs.
My outdoor/goodness theory flies in the face of Algeciras parenting. While I feel wet feet double as an opportunity to clean between toes, here, wet feet rank with pedophiles and unmatched socks on the DANGER scale. The priorities are clean, matching, vacuum packed and highly sugared.
The other day I saw a woman walking beside her perhaps 9-year old son. They were limping along awkwardly. As they approached you could see that the strange posture was because the mother had her hand down the boy’s collar, stretching the shirt away from his skin.
Snippets of conversation as they passed revealed that she could not allow his skin to be in contact with wet cotton for the duration of their 20 metre journey to the car, least he die of pneumonia on the way.
This conversation took place on a sunny 15 degree afternoon.
Hence, we almost always have the playground to ourselves. It is always either too hot, too cold, too windy, too early or too something for the neighbour kids.
Even with the life-threatening dangers of puddles and Mediterranean breezes, the lonely playground gets a little tame for us Canadian kids. We need to venture out into the wilds. Natural spaces are tough to find in Algeciras, but we can always retreat to our favorite place, the cemetery.
“Bring it. I’ve got my boots on. I eat WILD for breakfast.”
The patch of weeds behind the cemetery provides the thrills we Canadian adventurers need. Throwing sticks. Picking weeds. Dodging dog-poo. Appreciating the perfection of
We breath deeply of the fresh air blowing in off the sea. Ah yes. The fine scent of diesel fumes from the port mingles with a delicate whiff of oil refinery.
The wilderness behind the cemetery is kid stuff for us big strong Canadians. We can take on semi-wild cats and old men swinging walking sticks. Even a Saint Bernard poo doesn’t scare us away. No, we can take the wilderness. The real danger around here comes in the form of large, fuzzy, dancing turtles.
“Turtles? There aren’t any dancing turtles back here, are there Mom?”
That will bring you to your, na na na na na na na na knees, knees!