August 2022

My fondest memories are of being a little girl wearing my flip flops, my swimsuit, smelling of sunscreen sporting Popsicle fingers, and my perceived freedom from routine and parents. Recently when a group of adults were asked about their favorite summer memories as a child, inevitably they all included outdoor stories. They also included experiencing the freedom that the outdoors afford us and how they thought children today don’t have that anymore. 

I would counter that children may not be getting outdoors as much, and on that I think we can all agree, but I’m not sure we had any more freedom than kids do today. With 5 children to care for my mom was a busy, busy person and may not have always known where we were but her village helped in that regard the same way she knew where their children were. The support of the village was crucial and still is. 

I think children believe they are free even when adult eyes and ears are paying attention to ensure their feelings of independence while keeping them safe. As parents if we foster that independence and encourage them to explore, the satisfaction they gain is imperative to growing and developing into high functioning adults. What’s not to love about that?

With my sticky fingers and freckled nose I could travel into my world of imagination as I explored plants where the fairies lived and I could travel to other worlds before I could read. I was free to imagine, free to explore and thought I was alone even when my parent’s and village eyes and ears knew of my whereabouts and ensured my safety. 

What’s your favorite summertime memory? I hope you can help your own child experience some of what that was and that it’s equally sticky, warm and magical. 

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Giraffe Laugh is a local nonprofit that provides early childhood education and nurturing to 170 Treasure Valley children annually by ensuring school readiness, empowering families, and building strong futures.

Giraffe Laugh has two full-time programs that serve children 0-5 years old, a full-time preschool program that serves children 3.5-5 years old, and a summer program that serves children that are of school-age.