Some of my favourite childhood memories are of playing in the woods. Mostly just exploring, adventuring, it always felt like I was Indiana Jones or some great explorer from legend. There were woods out behind our house, and mum would just kick us out the back door in the morning and tell us when we had to be back by. I wonder, now, if she worried, or if she just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
My children, of course, aren’t even allowed to go to the park next door without constant supervision. This is due to a myriad of abstract fears, many of which are not my own. One of the results of bringing up children after a divorce is that rather than compromise you essentially accept a small amount of fundamental ground rules. You know…stuff that you know that it’s not worth arguing about. To be honest, my children have little interest in the outdoors because you can’t plug it into the X-Box, but I still worry that they’re missing out on an essential part of growing up.
That said, if I’m honest, it’s more that they’re not having my childhood. They’re not doing the things I loved doing. They’re doing different things, their own things. One day, they’ll have kids, and they’ll bemoan the fact that they refuse to discover the joys of building a house in Minecraft.
The world has changed. My generation was the first to encounter a new digital world; my children have grown up immersed in it from birth. They’re more likely to experience dappled sunlight filtered through a canopy of leaves within the virtual world of Skyrim than in an actual forest. And is that a bad thing?
Well, yes, probably. But the summer holidays are fast approaching, so a trip to some woodlands might be in order…