I was pondering this phrase the other day. When I was a child being ‘left to our own devices’ meant we went off and did things that would have horrified our parents if they had known…balancing precariously on makeshift rafts so we could play at pirates in a murky frog-infested pond, crawling over deserted building sites, riding our bikes into deep gullies. We even played the dare game with knives.
But then we grew up reading books where kids did have adventures on their own…Swallows and Amazons, The Chronicles of Narnia, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. They had their adventures but were always home in time for tea. (For my American friends, tea is a snack type meal taken in late afternoon – in case one starved before dinner – usually consisting of sandwiches and cakes. Where I now live, in Northern Britain, it’s also what we call dinner. Just to confuse matters further…lunch here is called dinner.)
‘Left to our own devices’ now has new meaning with the universal spread of smartphones, tablets…and this year’s must have Christmas present…a smartwatch.
I’ve found that my reading pattern has changed. If I’m reading a book on my device, how long before I’ll switch to playing a game, checking emails or Facebook? I love reading and still I find myself distracted by the device in my hands. What hope then for the younger generation now growing up with these devices. When will they experience the simple joys of playing outside? Parents keep them indoors for fear of what they will encounter when they step out the door. Even walking to and from school is seen as hazardous. When will they be given the chance to learn to cross the road safely?
I don’t have children and if I did maybe I would be over-protective as well. But I would want them to experience the simple of joys of childhood…building tree forts, making bows and arrows, riding bikes all day…letting the imagination roam free. And most importantly, reading books. Finding Narnia or Wild Cat Island or the Enchanted Forest…these are the building blocks for not just a happy childhood, but creating a reservoir of memories that can sustain you as an adult.
Some of the books in the photo I only discovered long after my childhood days were behind me. But I enjoyed them (and still do) because once you’ve found Narnia; the longing to return never really leaves you.
There Was a Time and The Christmas Sweepstake – both available FREE on the Affinity website