As kids, my bigger sister and me always hung out together, always. During summers we lived on the farm of my grandparents. There was a lake, forests, animals, outhouses and barns…There was also really nobody to pay much attention to what us kids did, as long as we were back for dinner and dinnertime was always the same. We ran wild during those summers, spending our time in creative freedom…Until we were found out or caught doing some prank, when we would be locked into our room for a day, only to pick up where we left off once we were released again. My sister was amazing at thinking up pranks, I did the planning and more often or not, she would get us caught. We were incredibly creative and energetic; small forces of energy and power that easily could dismantle a small vehicle in no time. We were awesome! There was nothing that couldn’t be turned into a game or a challenge.
Forward 25 years: I have 4 children ranging from age 2 to 10. We live in the forest on the farm of my grandparents, on the other side of the lake. I had only one rule for the children and their myriads of friends that came and went: “Don’t even look at the well or the train tracks”. That worked. Once those kids were out of the house, I would not see them for hours and I had no idea where they were or what they were up to…They were running wild. I figured that they were so many so if somebody would get hurt, the others would get help. I found remnants of their games; a hut they had built 600 meters into the forest with mattresses and stuff they had dragged out there, it must have taken days, weeks. The kids would come home with torn clothes, scrapes, dirt and huge tired smiles. Sometimes they told me what they did, more often not. But I always knew; I used to be them, the child running wild, finding adventure everywhere.
Now they are grown up and I enjoy listening to their stories of what they did. Sometimes I am slightly horrified and so glad I didn’t know at the time. When listening to them I see that they learned so many skills; communication, planning, executing a plan by working as a team. Fairness, sharing, helping, assertiveness (try being the youngest of all; it’s mighty hard work being allowed to participate as other than a slave.) And I realize that some of the most important stuff I learned was in the time when I was a child running wild. Such kids are always clever.