My kids have recently found the joy of climbing trees. I used to love to climb trees! We had a tall tree in our front yard when I was young, and when I climbed it, I was in another world. Surrounded by green leaves, feeling the breeze, hidden from the rest of the world, I could be whoever I wanted to be. That was my alone tree. But there were other trees. We had two very old apricot trees in the back yard. This was the world I shared with my sister. We played “neighbors” everyday, as long as we could. She had one tree, and I had the other. These are precious memories to me. I couldn’t tell you what we pretended….I think there were party invitations and pretend phone calls, and pretend names. We had space and time to be free. How often do our children have extended free time just to BE? Be free, be inventive, be creative, be engaged in their own world? Are their schedules so full with “enrichment” that they miss the richness of what they themselves can create on the canvass of a blank afternoon? I’m sure there were things I wanted to do back then and wasn’t able to because of finances or schedules, but I don’t miss it now. I wouldn’t trade my carefree days of play for anything. My brothers played soccer in the backyard while we played in the trees. We rode bikes around the neighborhood. I can still feel the way time seemed to stand still as the sun was going down, and the light blazed and faded, and we didn’t come in until it had. We squeezed every drop of play we could from each minute. This is something I want for my children, but as times have changed, I am so cautious. So how do we give this gift of freedom in this day and age? Do our children even know how to do this? There are times I give it a try, and all I get are complaints and requests to use the computer/Wii/iPhone/TV/or whatever electronic thing they can reach. It is a weaning process that is easy to give up on….but if I push through, and keep saying “no, go find something to do” they eventually do…and it is beautiful to see them alone, or together….lips whispering made up conversations, giggles and laughter as they make up a commercial, or jumping, or running, or climbing a tree. These will be their sweet memories, and I love to see it happening!