A few weeks ago our family cottage on Lake Manitoba — where I spent about three months a year until I moved out on my own — was torn down.
Knowledge that this event was in the offing didn’t make seeing pictures of the demolition any easier and I found myself flooded with emotion and introspection. And I should be clear, this cabin I speak of had one cramped bedroom and what I think was the original “great room” where we cooked, ate and lounged on a daybed playing cards. There was a small stereo and nine-inch TV with rabbit ears where we sometimes watched fuzzy episodes of M.A.S.H after the news in the evenings. We had no indoor plumbing and I was about nine before we had hot water. I didn’t know it then, but it was heaven.
Having been back to visit earlier this summer, I found that while many of the sights had altered, the smells and textures, and simply the feeling of sand — THAT sand — between my toes, were all unchanged.
Despite the fact that B.C. is now home, my childhood will forever live at Twin Lakes Beach. My sister, cousins, friend Diane and I spent endless days there, running free. It seems to me that as long as we kept within an implied one-kilometre boundary, there was nothing we couldn’t do. Swimming for hours on end, mucking about in the marsh, making nests in abandoned haystacks of farmers’ fields, climbing trees, building forts in overgrown empty lots — it was all ours for the taking.
I would wager we all have a place like that in our memory bank: A place in nature where the beauty of childhood envelops us in a safe, tranquil embrace.
Yet, as I plan for a film screening of the documentary Play Again (Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Eagle Eye Theatre at 7:30 pm) that addresses the effects of nature deficit disorder and the digital age, I find myself questioning what children of this generation will cherish from their own childhood. Of what will their so-called golden moments consist?
Will their warm and fuzzy memories comprise of a favourite app or game played on an iPod in the backseat of a minivan?
The power that screens have over us these days — admittedly, I use one much of my own working day — is immense. Children in the United States are on one version or another five to 15 hours a day.
As parents, we still have influence in our children’s lives — more when they are younger, of course. It’s up to us to ensure that our kids continue to build real hands-on experiences of their own and not ones predominantly virtual. Let’s make sure they get outside to play, that they get dirty, that they know what it feels like to play tag in the forest, to hide in the hollow of a tree, and to feel the sun — and rain — on their cheeks.
After all, they won’t melt. I checked it on the Internet.
Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting courses, workshops and private consultations in the Corridor. A new class begins Sept. 21. For details visit Sea To Sky Simplicity Parenting on Facebook. You can also visit www.SeaToSkySimplicityParenting.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.