A friend once joked that she wasn't taking her kids to a theme park because she "didn't want them to grow up thinking life needed to be that exciting". And while it was said in jest (though let's be honest, there are plenty of reasons that a sound-sensitive introvert might wish to avoid theme parks and similar places), there was a shadow of truth inside.
Because we set the bar with our kids everyday. We teach them what to expect. And so if we as parents tend to equate fun with something big or splashy or expensive, well, perhaps that's what they will grow up craving, too.
More than a decade later, her comment is still with me. It resonated. And not because I think any harm would come of a theme park visit. I don't believe a rollercoaster now and again will spoil my kids. Rather it was what she implied but did not say.
That she hoped her kids would grow up to relish the small, ordinary pleasures of childhood. That life happens not in the pinnacle big ticket moments, but in the simple quiet corners of our lives. No airplanes or wristbands required.
What resonated for me was the idea of raising kids who grow up savoring the ordinary.
And while my kids don't necessarily ooze gratitude constantly (who does, really?), they do take authentic delight in small, simple pleasures, like rolling our sleeping bags out on the ground, making ice cream for no reason, or taking a walk in the woods.
As a bonus, all of this is in budget. Can't afford the theme park, the water park, or the county fair? You're still good. Because you probably can afford a game of cards or finger painting or mud-pie baking with your kid.
And so this weekend when I gathered supplies and set off without a word into the orchard to light a campfire, well, it wasn't long until everyone was gathered around me there. Lupine with a knife for whittling, Sage with a DIY rocket stove project, Pete with his newly-restored, broken-arm worthy slide guitar, and me with my knitting.
And there we settled in for the evening.
It was simple, it was free, and it brought us together and delighted us all.
Now those are family entertainment goals that I can get behind.
(As my inner introvert silently cheers.)