Five Children and It; a flash back to childhood.
There are certain children’s books that I challenge you to read and not find yourself with a smile on your face. The simple sense of adventure and the innocent nature of the characters is for me the equivalent of a jolly good hug. Five Children and It, The Railway Children, The Secret Garden, Swallows and Amazons, anything by Enid Blyton the list could go on. There is something about these books which is quintessentially good for the soul, like a spring day with the sun out. Although we know the children will conqueror there is no greater thrill than when the adventure turns sour. As a child I feverishly turned the pages needing to read more and as an adult, having recently re-read Five Children and It, I still found myself caught up in the fun wondering how the next wish will go wrong and how the children will fix it.
As a child I like to think I was as adventurous as some of my friends from books, I certainly climbed enough trees looking for houses in their trunks and gateways to magical places at the top. I had the freedom to roam spending many holidays on a family farm in Ireland and my cousins and I could lose ourselves for hours in the make believe and imaginary worlds we created. The old lady down the road was probably unfairly cast as the wicked evil witch on far too many occasions and like in many of the books one of my younger cousins would always get scared and want to go home when they feared we strayed too far from the set boundaries. On reflection to be fair nine times out of ten we had strayed too far, it took a lot longer to get home than we planned and we missed more than one dinner! If I’m honest I still have an over active imagination at times, there is a house near us which for no specific reason I have nick named “The Great Train Robbery House” I’m convinced it’s the sort of place a gang of thieves would use as a hide out and cycle past it as quickly as possible as I don’t want to catch their attention. It’s silly, I’m sure a perfectly normal family live there, but it brings excitement to my cycle home.
This freedom to roam and to make up stories is something I want to be able to give to any children I have in the future. I want them to get muddy, to scrap a knee, to see pirates and bank robbers and spies in the people around them going about their daily activities. But how do I do that? How do you foster a sense of adventure and freedom? I may have to change tact when the time actually comes around but for now I believe my tool will be books. A first step to taking their own adventures will be to join other children on theirs. They’ll learn to be scared, they’ll learn that not every adult can be trusted; they’ll learn that sometimes things wrong. And hopefully they’ll learn to open their eyes to the world around them and to explore and create the dreams and escapades they want.