How do our kids learn about the world? Do they read the newspaper? Listen to the radio? Travel outside their hometown?
I’m raising my children in the same university town where I grew up. It’s very safe, educated, liberal and has excellent schools. We take advantage of the healthy environment, youth activities, and culture that comes with living in a college town.
But I remember when I graduated from high school here and moved to the ‘city’ back in the 80s, I felt that I had broken through a glass bubble. My eyes were opened in a way that I’m sure is common to most college freshmen, but I quickly realized that there was a HUGE world that I had simply never been exposed to.
One of the dangers of raising kids in a community like mine is an unconscious, and sometimes conscious, sense of entitlement. That is terrifying to me. While my husband and I are both well educated, we chose professions of service, not salary. We try to teach our children about the value of our Earth, the value of a dollar, and the value of a human being as our highest values.
Last weekend, after the campus Picnic Day celebration, we packed up garbage bags, water and layered on sunscreen and headed to our local arboretum to clean up after the crowds. As we walked along the creek we were pleasantly surprised that the grounds were nearly litter free.
To my surprise and delight, my son urged us to move a new location where we could actually find garbage.
We weren’t disappointed with our next stop-Community Park offered a huge selection. Despite the heat, we hunted for debris big and small.
When we’d filled our bags and added a broken down chair, we declared ourselves done. As we hopped on our bikes and headed home, my son chattered with delight the entire way about what we’d done. Not only did he return with an beat up, ratty old ball as a souvenir, but he also learned that even a kid can serve his world through small acts in his community.
I think that’s a step in the right direction towards bursting the bubble, don’t you?