When our telephone was a tin can on a string…

It’s always amazing to me how breezily my son can make friends on the playground. We went to two different parks today, and on both occasions, when a new child arrived he said, “Look! A new friend!” and ran up to the child and introduced himself.

The two of them then ran off in a game only childhood can decipher. Disappearing into a land of giggles and silliness off-limits to adults and all the dullness of their priorities and smart phones.

My five-year-old is the friendliest person I’ve ever met. He can literally talk to any person, and, as of today, he’s even trying to learn Spanish so that he can more easily talk to people. I’ve never known such a social butterfly.

My three-year-old, on the other hand, chooses the solitary games. He likes the swings. The sand. Balancing on beams. He isn’t anti-social. He will play with others if prompted, or if he simply chooses to at that moment, but he very much enjoys his own company.

I think both of my boys have inherited my personality. I am both an introvert and an extrovert. I am social and I am reserved. I want to make friends, but I also like time to myself. And, much like my little guy, lately I have been inclined to spend my free time alone.

It isn’t that I dislike people. It’s that I begin to feel drained. I crave the quietness of my own company. The activity of my own brain. I enjoy solitary walks and bike rides. I appreciate nature and it’s life. The way the silent woods still hum with life and story.

I want my boys to appreciate life in that way. In many ways, I’d like my five-year-old to learn to take pause, and my three-year-old to learn to branch out.

They will both find their own way, I’m sure. My hope is that I do right by them in the balance of today and it’s speed. How do you cultivate a love of nature and books and knowledge, and at the same time keep from depriving them of the necessity of technology and culture?

I think I would rather they learn to catch toads and climb trees in their youth, and let them find comfort in nature the way I always have. The rest will follow, I feel.

“Are you afraid of dinosaurs that will bite your head off?” My son asked a boy today as they swung on the swings, their heads dangling daringly close to the ground. “Or monsters that will get you?”

“Nope. I’m not afraid of nothin’,” he replied with resoluteness.

Oh, to be five.

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