Hire a professional to do what?

There is lots of value in children getting outside to play.

I was out for a walk on perfect evening. My massage therapist says I need exercise for my sore back. I was hoping to hear her tell me to lie on a heating pad for a month but apparently I have to build up my core. I patted my stomach showing her that my core was indeed getting bigger, but she was not amused.

She says the years have caught up with me after changing truck and tractor tires and responding to adrenaline-fueled emergencies. Personally, I believe the pain is the result of bending over backwards to please everyone all my life, but no one else supports that theory.

The neighbourhood was quiet, particularly no kids. No hockey nets, no bikes or skate boards, no arguments or noise. The dynamics of a neighbourhood change as kids grow and leave. I can recall my kids running in yelling for a loonie, because the ice cream truck was coming. Today, an ice cream truck drove down the street and no one came out.

I walked past the school playground and the still swings were casting long shadows across the slides and monkey bars. The soccer field and baseball diamonds were empty. What a waste of a beautiful evening.

Later that night, my buddy Brian sent me an article from the Calgary Herald written by Naomi Lakritz. Every once in awhile Brian does this to bait me, and it usually inspires a column.

The article tells us that parents can now hire “professionals” to come and teach their kids to ride bikes without training wheels. This company is called Pedalheads and their theory is that parents are too busy and “getting a pro gives kids a supportive environment and is safer and more fun.”

Riding a bike used to be something you had to do if you wanted to keep up with everyone. Your parents, brothers or sisters or a friend held the seat and let you go and off you went. It wasn’t about safety or being supportive, it was about survival and getting those bloody training wheels off was a big deal.

I remember when they paved Norris Road. No more gravel or pot holes and every kid on that street from the McGregors at one end down to the Muenchs at the other end rode back and forth on that smooth black pavement for hours until it was dark.

When it was dark I can recall flying down that fresh blacktop and the only sound was the generator purring on my back tire making that handlebar light brighter than ever. What a feeling of freedom on a cool night after a hot summer day as the wind went rushing by and I was sure I was going to break the sound barrier. I did all of this without professional training.

This professional service has been available in the Lower Mainland for years apparently. I wonder if they also teach lessons in hopscotch or marbles. Maybe they have a Power Point presentation on how to play hide and seek or tag as well.

Maybe the kids have been so busy at their organized sports activities they are tired at the end of the day. I hope they get a chance to experience playing outside after dark. Maybe parents should hire a professional to come in and yell at the kids: “Turn that bloody TV off and go play outside.” At least that’s what McGregor says.

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