Outside plays feels far away

Parent after parent shared what they remember playing as a child. We were wrapping up a parent-teacher conference at daycare. The prompt was to share what your child likes to do as well as what you did as a child. An overwhelming majority of them remembered playing outside. Some in the mountains. Others in rice fields. Others at their local shrine. Climbing trees, making mud balls, playing tag, making forts, or digging pits for their mother to fall into.

And they all ended up in the city. Tokyo. The concrete jungle instead of the bamboo or pine one. The lure of the big city brought us all from the childhood of bug bites and sunburns to this place where we can get a job.

For my own children, we are fortunate enough to live next to parks, rivers, and enough green to make living in the city feel more like the countryside. But the signs that you shouldn’t fish, climb a tree, or pitch a tent are everywhere. Not a surprise because it’s government land and with so many kids running around, accidents are bound to happen. In large quantities.

That doesn’t make me second guess our location and the types of opportunities, from a nature perspective, that we keeping them from. Do we stay here where great food, lots of young parents, and activities for children abound? Or do we make a move to where the average age will be nearly double my current, but the land to roam and play on will be vast? Feels like the grass is greener over there, but I think I might be being nostalgic. Still, it wasn’t the toy cars, trains, or building blocks that most parents decided to feature about their childhoods, it was that precious time outside. What will mine remember?