Momservation: Dirt is to children what chocolate is to a premenstrual woman.
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I have been fortunate enough to take my kids to Disneyland, Disneyworld, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, Montana, and Washington D.C. all in the name of expanding their horizons, life experience, and fun.
But if you go by my kids’ gushing praises, their “I can’t wait to go back!” exclamations, and excited recounting delivered in a verbal tumbling over each other play-by-play – none of those places can hold a candle to where my kids have been spending all their time lately.
You know the place – everyone’s had one in their lives growing up. That one area of open space in a suburban housing area that offers up dirt, weeds, rock piles, and possibilities. Where freedom from your parents’ watchful eyes, a playground for the imagination, and the treasure of abandoned junk awaits. It is the utopia for kids whose moms tell them, “Just be back before dark.”
It is The Dirt Lot.
It is where trenches become fox holes, dirt clogs become hand grenades, pallets become forts, and going back the next day to find a freshly dumped pile of dirt can cause a kid to faint in ecstasy.
I remember, I did. And then my brother and I played King of the Mountain the rest of the day. I think the dirt mound was reduced by half when we left, carrying it away in our shoes, hair, ears, pockets, and underwear.
The Dirt Lot is where you can play Army, Indians, Survivorman, Mantracker, Man vs. Wild, or Little House on the Prairie. Without leaving the neighborhood you can be in Africa, the Amazon, the Sahara, or one of those places they drop Bear Grylls.
I love that the TV has gone dark and the Nintendo DS’s have grown cold since my children have discovered the joy of open space and their imaginations just as I did as a kid.
My kids, Logan, 11, and Whitney, almost 10, are old enough now where I finally feel (somewhat) comfortable letting them hop on their bikes, grab a couple neighborhood friends, and ride to the dirt lot for a few hours unsupervised. With a cell phone, of course (to help with the “somewhat” feeling).
I know they thrive on the feeling of independence, the thrill of creating their own adventure, and the joy of running free among the dirt, rocks and weeds as high as their chest. It is a right of passage as a kid and as a reforming helicopter mom I’m not going to hover in their way.
Even when they are living dangerously by stealing oranges from over the neighbor’s fence in order to “survive.”
Today, they can’t wait to get out of school. But not just because it’s school. It’s because they scored yesterday when someone left an abandoned jet ski at the lot.
Just what they needed to escape the Amazon rain forest and make it safely back to civilization.