God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I'm a Country Boy

Sometimes, and if we listen, experience teaches us truths about ourselves. If we are wise, we let these truths help form and mold us into what we become. So, the question I have is: When a child offers insight into his soul and reveals something about who he is, what is the responsibility of the adults in his life to respond to that self-knowledge?

I ask this because Casey, with the innocence of a child who in odd moments blurts out important insights, claims that he is "a country boy--not a city boy." At nine he not only senses who he is but can verbalize it. I fear that life as it unfolds will take this knowledge from him--that it will be smothered by daily life, forcing dreams to be put aside-- crowded out by the need to adjust to the environment he is captive to.

Casey lives in a city--an urban environment with houses on either side and behind, with busy crossroads, no room to explore and the constant, common fear of danger which keeps children tethered close to home.

Our children grew up in the same house that we now live but in "those days" kids walked themselves to and from school, explored nearby canyons, easily rode bikes to homes of nearby friends and had the freedoms that we associate with youth--the same ones that I experienced as a child. That has changed. Fear has displaced spontaneity and innocence.

Now parents drive or walk their children to and from school, canyons are off limits, seldom do kids ride their bikes from one street to another and the little park across the street does not promise safety unless kids are supervised. So, Casey participates in organized activities--soccer, Little League, flag football, karate, church activities and maybe chess (his latest thought)--but, he doesn't run free, discover hidden places or wander at will to where ever his feet lead. And I am sad for him.

He loved last year and thrived on being free. He and his friends would wander up the road, finding "crystals" and then bring these treasures home to break apart, looking for the riches they were sure they would find within. Woe to me if I threw any of this away.

After dinner on the piazza, he would go out and find friends and wander and play while we sipped our coffee, enjoying the ambiance of night in our small Italian village.

He was not afraid and we had no fear for him. It was a place for children to be and he loved it. "Gramma, I'm a country boy--not a city boy." And I understand him.


Judith in Umbria said...

Oh my, do I get that. I look back on my life in the country and I think it was magic. You had the freedom and the need to be creative. Nothing was laid out for you. You could be any character you wanted and wander at will until the next meal time, or time to do chores.

They can't take that away from me.

But I was also a city adult for many years and had no time for bucolic pursuits. I got over that eventually.

Jerry said...

Jane - you really touched a nerve with this post. I think that I am like Casey - I too am a free explorer. I find that even when I'm in a city I explore - probably in places I shouldn't.

There is no doubt that the world is not the safe place it was for raising kids (although I have a recollection of being warned in my grade one class about some guy driving about and offering kids candy). Kids today lead such scheduled lives. I wonder what the long term impact of that will be?

Valerie said...

Jane, It's touching that at his young age he does such soul-searching and is willing to share those insights with you. What's an adult to do? I mightily wish I had answers to offer. You can only train a child in the way he should go and in the end he will not depart from it!

teaberry said...

Yes, Jane, it is sad. But good also, that at this age he knows something about who he is and what he likes. It will always guide his dreams.

You have given him many tastes of things besides city life, and that will affect him (positively) forever.

Beautifully put, Jane.

Rita said...

Hi Jane,

Having raised our own daughters in Greve, I can feel exactly what Casey and you are saying. It's a nice place to be a child. And an easier place to be a parent.

Our girls learned to ride their bikes along the vineyard road to our home; we sat in outdoor restaurants in the Piazza Matteoti and after lunch, felt perfectly comfortable letting them go off with friends for an independent walk, to laugh and giggle on the safe streets.

They knew everyone in town. In fact, one day a stray dog arrived on our terrace. "That's Chico, Matteo's dog," announced Jackey. "They live in Cintoia, we have to call them to let them know he's here."

It's 1950s America, and oh how I miss it.


diana said...

Probably one of the biggest gifts you have given him is the ability to trust his gut and know who he is. And what a gift that is, Jane.