I spent a delectable 12 days in rural Ohio visiting my parents with K. My husband joined us for part of the trip – unfortunately it was the part when K. had come down with a nasty tonsilitis/ear infection combo, and also on the day we came home there was a small fiasco involving a lost, and then found, car key — so I’m not sure that DH would’ve considered it the most restful vacation imaginable. But illness and car drama aside, K. and I had a wonderful time.
There’s just something about letting go of your cares, dodging the distractions of city life, and slowing down in the country in the summertime. Which got me thinking…
Perhaps it’s the DC area’s reputation as a hard-driven, all-business working town that contributes to the pressure I often feel about raising K. in just the right way – making sure that he is taking advantage of the myriad enrichment opportunities that the area has to offer. But, as I explain in a recent essay for the Christian Science Monitor, becoming consumed with that strategy can often backfire.
When I come home to Ohio, I remember that for a child, learning things on your own time and in your own way can be more meaningful than any class your parents could pay for.
The afternoons K. spent tearing through my parents’ yard in his bare feet (a whole acre+ of grass – unfathomable in DC!), or the hundreds of rocks we painted, or the spider web-hunting treks we made during the dewy mornings … these are all priceless experiences, memories to be cherished, and opportunities for learning new things.
K. arguably has access to more cultural activities, a better public education, and other world-widening experiences in the city in which we live now. But thanks to his connection to a small town, he will also be enriched by the values that go along with that life: community, an appreciation for nature, an ability to cherish the simple things.
I have often marveled at the huge differences between the small town in which I grew up and the bustling metropolis where I now live. And as I’ve learned, when it comes to raising children, both provide invaluable experiences in their own special ways.