Friday, September 14, 2012

"Did You Have a Good Childhood?"

Our first nature walk of the school year was a roped invitation.
I had promised my 5th grader lots of nature study at the beginning of the school year.
My college student had an essay to write.
It was his invitation to accompany him on his assignment that led to our first excursion.
It was my delight to follow him.
Our original destination was Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Tx only to discover, as we tanked up the vehicle and discussed lunch plans, that it was closed on the day of our outing.
Plan B.
There is always a Plan B in our family. :-)

We had heard there was a relatively new boardwalk behind the Texas Information Center west of the Sabine River off Interstate 10. It makes for a short 20 minute drive and is perfect for a nature walk, nature study, and essay paper.

The day was golden.
It provided a chance to enjoy the autumn cool front, gather a harvest of sunshine...
A chance to walk without pesky mosquitoes...
A chance to walk surrounded by love (bugs)...
A chance to talk and wonder...
A chance to share with my son what I want for his son, my grandson...
A chance to talk...
Even more, a chance to listen...

When one becomes the parent of children in their twenties while still having a child in elementary, one realizes the moments are few and childhood is precious.
We have our children for 18 years.
The world and everyone else in it has them the rest of their lives.
The one question I had for my son this autumn day was:
"Did you have a good childhood, son?"
He answered, "Yes, yes, I did."
And the one statement I wanted to give him was:
"Because that's the one thing I want you to give my grandson...a good childhood."
The legacy of a good childhood is something that gets us through the bumpy potholes in life.
It's almost essential, and I see too many children having less than rich childhoods.
By "less than rich childhoods" I'm talking about something more than devices and wires and electronics. I'm talking about a life well-spent, a life with meaning.
From there I just listened and let him talk....
about his experiences,
about his childhood memories,
about his his dreams,
about his plans.
That's when I knew that the only thing I was able to give him, positively, was a good childhood.

Parents can't give their children much else and, as much as we give, the world takes.
The world will take and suck and deplete.
Childhood memories form a reservoir. Those memories make or break us.
And they save us.
So in the moment of this day, I reminded him gently that all his dreams, hopes, and plans for his life, as of this year, had to include a little shadow walking alongside him and that it was in his hands, his capability to pass on the light of a good childhood.
Shadows need not be gloomy, sinister beings.
Shadows are part of us and who we are.
Everyone has a shadow and we often don't make their acquaintance until the sun pops out and reveals them.
Shadows are not a bad thing at all.

They connect us to the earth and what truly matters.
My son will see this little shadow beside him everytime the sun shines upon him.
This walk gave us a chance to see how he could nurture those moments with his own son in an attempt to give his son a rich childhood.
We cannot guarantee our children a perfect childhood.
We cannot guarantee our children a safe future.
We cannot guarantee our children a good education.
We cannot guarantee our children a good job.
We cannot guarantee our children a stressfree life.
We can guarantee them moments of sun...nature walks that are free to everyone...predictable autumn cool fronts...parental support...a listening ear...
...and knowing that Plan B can be as good as Plan A. :-)
Shadows can provide cool, refreshing places as long as we look towards the sun.
Shadows teach us to look towards the sun for Light.
Shadows are part of God's providence.

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