Before I could drive or was interested in girls, I spent many summer afternoons fishing at a small secluded pond about a mile from our home. My friends and I mostly fished for perch that we’d catch and release by the dozens
One afternoon we watched as an older boy cast his line far out into the middle of the lake and landed a pike which fought on the line for what seemed like an hour. He eventually brought the fish ashore while the rest of us stood around in awe. We’d never seen such an unusual fish come out of that pond, and we spent the two summers trying to land that elusive pike. Any firm bite was attributed to a pike, but none of us ever caught one. Perch were never quite as exciting again.
Those lazy summer afternoons spent with friends were a memorable time of my life, yet it’s hard to imagine a similar scenario repeating today. I’d like to believe that I’m not influenced by the never-ending media reports of missing children and abuse, but I am. My mother and father kept close tabs on me as a young boy, but they also gave me the freedom to explore ponds, rivers, fields and tree forts outside of our neighborhood. I’d like to my children to have that same freedom to forge their own friendships and enjoy outdoor activities.
With the internet and cable news reporting every missing child it’s impossible to know if anything has really changed since I was a kid. In the 70’s and 80’s we usually only heard reports of missing children if they were from our town. Today, incidents that take place thousands of miles away often feel as though they are one town or neighborhood away.
I have no idea if I’m keeping my children any more safe then my parents did with their children. We didn’t have Nintendo, Xbox and iPods to keep us entertained at home so we were constantly looking for adventure, even when it took us a mile or two from home.
I wonder if many of the outdoor dangers have been replaced by those online.
As we head into Spring I need to remember that my kids naturally want to spread their wings and explore. And that I don’t need to freak out if they happen to ride their bikes a little further down the street.