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We are rounding out our summer by visiting the kids summer adventure lists to see what remains. We have tried to find something each day that seems new, different and yet simple and attainable. Thanks to my daughter’s list she made a weaving art with pipe cleaners. My little monster organized a water balloon stomp on the trampoline, and we are hoping to visit either the local night sky program or the venom extraction at a local attraction this weekend. All these family adventures were designed by kids and have led to really fun family connection experiences, so I thought I would use these simple adventures as the theme for our show today.
Point in life when I realized my comfort zone was getting smaller. There is a social conditioning that happens through structures in our society (family, faith, economics, etc) that begin to condition us to avoid certain things. Safety being an example of avoiding danger and uncertainty. Some of the research points to:
Ego development – when we compare ourselves to others and develop a sense of who we are.
Herd Mentality- peer influence on what is right or what we trust. The concept of the tipping point and safety in numbers.
Pavlovs dog- rewarded for desired behavior
I share several examples in my book about how social conditioning begins around age 10 – we begin the entry point into educational pathways grooming us for specific careers, we are taught to tame our personalities and fall in line with the expectations of society, we lose some of the vivacious energy of our early years.
I think one of the magical elements about being around young kids is their sense of wonder, their belief that they can do, be, and have anything.
I want you to think of yourself around 7 YO. That is usually second grade. Any time before age 10. If you can pause and write down something you remember about your 7YO self? What did you admire about that person? What kinds of experiences do you remember, that brought the most joy in your life? Do you remember a time specifically when you cared about what other people thought?
Now think about your life today. What is a normal day like for you? How much of your life today exudes the joy, excitement and wonder of your 7 YO self.
My youngest turned 7 in August and as I was communicating with my brother and his wife about coordinating a special day with him we were discussing – what would he like to do. His list included: Go fishing, swim in their pool, get ice cream and sleep over for 3 days. Earlier this year I decided to throw together my 10 YO birthday party in 2 days and text a couple friends. We did a quick craft with random stuff I had in my craft room, the girls had a pillow fight and they watched Harry Potter. I spent $10 on Pizza from Little Caeser’s. One of the girls told me this was the best birthday party they had ever been to. I remembered the days when I scoured pinterest to find theme ideas, spent hours decorating a cake, made invitations, and coordinated expensive games or activities, and then the list of some big gifts to make the child feel special. I realized that was the conditioning that connected to how to be a cool mom and make your child feel special for their birthday. P.S. and that is okay if it offers joy. I just learned for our family, that was someone else’s metric of birthday success. My version of joy and birthday success was hearing 4 girls laugh so hard and share silly stories around my table making crafts and later telling me this was the best birthday ever.
I know we all have experienced some external force to fall in line. I remember believing that if I had a perfectly curated life plan I would be saved from struggle. Well, I followed that belief and I can tell you I had that perfect plan, and the plan lied. It didn’t save me from struggle or hardship- but rather my willingness to experience those struggles was when the greatest growth happened. Most 7 YO aren’t afraid of screwing up, they are excited to try.
I am currently reading Outdoor Kids in an Inside World by Steve Rinella and there is a scene he is describing at the Fish Shack where his young child is mesmerized by turning over rocks. I have spent many hours at beaches with little to no intent in swimming, but rather the perfect location to explore. In West Seattle our kids spent HOURS turning over rocks on the bay looking for crabs. Each rock was an entirely new door of possibility. Some rocks were slimy, some had interesting textures, others had tumbled through the water and were so smooth.
As I shared in Episode 087 | How to Quit a Job you Love our family has given notice and will be embarking on a family gap year in 2023 and to many that is a door they often don’t realize it could even be an option. While we have a plan, it wasn’t the plan that got us here. It was being willing to imagine our lives as 7 YO. To have the courage to put those items on the list and begin testing how we could make it work. I am convinced that what got us here was the foundational practice of simple family adventures. It was less about how much money, or what careers we have. Rather, what simple adventures do our kids want to experience and how can we build connections and find creative ways to make that happen. Turning over each rock with that sense of wonder.
Resources Referenced in this episode: