|S & F's fairy house|
On our way out of the park, we came across a group of young teenage boys and girls who had been catching frogs and other animals in one of the ponds. My first thought was, "How wonderful to see kids out here enjoying the park, and doing something other than playing video games or sitting in front of the television." They kindly let my kids look at what they caught in their buckets, and took out a little baby snapping turtle.
It was all down hill from there. One of the boys told me how his brother catches painted turtles there and sells them to other kids. The boys then proceeded to terrify the girls by tossing tadpoles and young frogs at them. I could barely contain myself. I offered some well tempered words about releasing the animals so they wouldn't die in captivity with kids who don't know how to take care of them, and asked them to please put them back where they found them. I then ushered my kids quickly away, so they weren't upset by the way the other kids were treating the animals. It was such a shame to see how these kids, who were seemingly enjoying nature, were so far removed from it that they had no respect for the living creatures they were catching. They treated them as playthings that were there for their amusement alone.
Our city's school system is horrific, but does have a program that gets the students outside in that park for a week at a time at each grade level to study different parts of the park's ecology. Unfortunately, this is about as far as it goes. And it is evident that the majority of the city's parents have no interest in this wonderful oasis of a park, other than the baseball fields and playground. There is a wonderful book that touches on how children are becoming more and more removed from nature. I recommend it to anyone with kids, especially if you live in a city.
People always raise their eyebrows when I tell them that I lug my kids in a jogger a couple miles to the park several times a week. As a homeschooler, I consider it a luxury to take my kids out into the woods pretty much whenever we feel like it. Both of them know more names of trees, birds, animals, and bugs than most adults I know. My kids are happiest when out in the woods, and it's more than worth the effort, in so many ways.