Back to School Signals the End of Childhood Joy and Freedom

This past weekend my 16 year old son and I went camping with some friends of ours. While kayaking alongside my son and our friends during our trip, I marveled at the vivid beauty before me: Mount Chocorua gracing proudly and breathtakingly in the distance, accented by New England White Pines, peaceful Lilly-padded lake and the salve of nature's sounds. I had to take a breath of sheer awe at the perfect beauty when my son and his friend in their boat rowed by with playful boyish charm across this backdrop as I sat and watched in my kayak. I regretted that I had not wrapped my camera in a plastic bag and brought it along to capture this moment. My mind immediatly soared back to the days of Native America, when joy was the purpose of childhood, when Native American children would have paddled their canoes across this very backdrop, laughing, racing and splashing just like my son and his friend, while loving parents in their canoes smiled serenely and with perfect love and gratitude for the children, the mountain, the lake, the trees, the lilly pads, animals... and the freedom.

As I kayaked further down the length of the lake, I watched children in the distance with all of the joy and passion of childhood launch themselves off of floating docks from private beaches. My senses were keen on their laughter, their jumping, splashing, running and joyful abandon. As I watched with my heart energized by their youthful rapture, a dejecting feeling and dreadful thought suddenly occurred to me-- a reality that violently split these children off from the Native American children hundreds of years ago who once played passionately in these waters: In just three weeks, those children on the docks will be forced to return to school, confined for another nine months to mind-numbing adult, corporate and federal agendas, forced to lock away their exuberant cries and laughter, their leaping, flying, jumping bodies, their families and friendships, their spirit-stirring curiosities and their sweet, heart-throbbing freedom.

I forced my way to the surface of this suffocating thought and a warm wave of relief blanketed over me like the warmth of the water and of the afternoon-- I pulled my kayak paddle around in an arc, turning my kayak around to face the direction of my son and his friend. I sighed with deep gratitude that my son and the majority of his friends are homeschoolers. There will be no depressing "Back to School" dread for us.