An old acquaintance recently posted a nostalgic photo on my Facebook page. My reply? “Gee, the poor kid never did have a chance to be “normal,” did he?” I often wonder how the situations my kids had thrust upon them have molded them. I worry my younger son didn’t have as “varied” opportunities as the older one.
Miles and his brother suffered — I mean, experienced — very different early childhoods. I was single when Miles was 2. I’d already started dragging him to Renaissance Faires from Agoura to Arizona — just plugged him into the car seat and off we’d go to strange lands, strange costumes and languages. Hey, he was a world-traveler of sorts. We just never left the country.
He was also blessed with growing up in the K-Otter radio studio. Talk about getting socialized. I believe every child should be introduced to as many diverse people as possible at an early age. Builds their immunity—not only to odd diseases, but social disorders as well. (Kidding, guys!)
Zachary didn’t get immersed in the ways of Ye Olde England, but did get to attend a few music festival campouts that I’m sure he doesn’t remember. He also spent his earliest years behind the Otter sound-board and at concerts. In fact, he sang “Happy Birthday” to singer, John Hiatt, at Avila Beach and became an early fan. (Where did those early musical influences disappear to, I wonder?)
The photographic memory I was sent, about the same time as I was getting back from the Live Oak Music Festival Father’s Day weekend (where kids have now grown up to even perform on the Main Stage), made me realize how important it is for kids to leave their comfort zone, to teach them to create comfort whereever they are and to find pleasure in the simplest of things. They may go through periods where they forget this, but, observing my older son, I know these skills come back.
How do you do this? Attitude. On occasion, my mom had to drag my sisters and me along with her on her night shift at the Los Angeles Times. She convinced us how privileged we were to be staying up all night (although there was a spot for us to lie down when our eyelids outweighed our energy). She made it fun to use adding machines (with the big pull-down handles), paper of all sorts and whatnot to write our own news articles, draw, etc. It was all in how it was presented.
I’ll admit, by child and dad number two, my creativity shifted somewhat. Having a whole family together, different likes and dislikes, tolerances and intolerances than in previous years, the adventures took on a more conventional look. Except for the cars. And maybe the style of dress and out-going-ness. But, that’s me. That’s mom. Always has been.
So, if you yourself are able to step out of your own comfort zone this summer — camp, if you’re a die-hard city-dweller; book a room in a downtown somewhere if you’re a rural rat like me — pack up the kids and learn something together, about the environs, the culture, about yourselves.
I promise, a wacky holiday or even misadventure or two won’t permanently scar your kids. They may, in fact, be better for it!