Watering the animals in North Idaho.

Wild and Free, Raising the Next Generation

I was raised wild and free. Then I raised the next generation to be wild and free.  

This is me. Even though it looks like a photo from the Dust Bowl era, it was taken in 1973 on our little farm in North Idaho. I grew up there, several miles outside a sparse logging town, from 1972-1983.

Recently, when my daughter looked at the picture, she asked about my clothes. Who knows? It was probably my favorite outfit. And since I never keep my shoes on, I’m barefoot in most of my childhood photos. Yes, I got foot injuries, but it didn’t convince me to wear shoes. A couple of my kids rebelled against shoes too, so I’ve gotten my pay-back.

Growing up wild and free.
My brother and I sitting on the chicken coup.
Growing up wild and free.
Washing the sheep for a 4-H competition.

After all those years in the country, I couldn’t stand to live in a typical neighborhood. Even though my kids grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, we lived in an old neighborhood where everyone had an acre or more and we could have huge bonfires, North Idaho style.

The roomy neighborhood with a large lake, gave my children a lot of opportunities for learning and exploring. The kids built forts and bike ramps, played ball, fished in the lake, caught crawdads in the creek, and had airsoft wars, among other things.

Neighbors and friends visited regularly and it was a huge incentive to get school work finished in order to have plenty of free time with them. Sometimes, parents were shocked because of things I let my kids do. I guess they didn’t understand my background. My mamma didn’t raise no wimps out west living at the base of the Kaniksu National Forest.

On occasion, homeschooled friends would tell me about a time they panicked while at our house because of what my kids were doing. “Really?” I’d respond, “That scared you?” Climbing seemed to be the biggest offense. When they were little, they’d climb on the outside of the banister railing on the 2nd floor and yell, “Look mom, I’m mountain climbing.”

“Okay, be careful, it will hurt if you fall.” Other than that, I never thought much of it. However, I did stop them from jumping off the roof onto the trampoline.

Somehow, we survived, even through Isaac’s, “I want to be on the bomb squad,” years. Apparently, to be good at bomb squad you have to know how to build a bomb. At first, his dad and I were like, “Okay, but buy your own supplies.” Since he didn’t tire quickly of this hobby, we eventually put a stop to it. It began to get dangerous. Self-directed learning anyone?

This is us. 

Wild and Free Camping
My kids and friends on a camping trip. A favorite time to be wild and free.

For school in the elementary years, we kept the heaviest focus on math and language arts. We liked to do unit studies and after that, we took field trips, built things, baked, camped, and hunted. That’s who we are.

Be who you are. Enjoy people who are like you—and who are different.

I’d love to know! Are you raising your kids like you grew up? Or have you changed a lot of things? Leave a comment and let me know what favorite wild and free things your kids love.

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