The Adventures of Little Kids & Big Trees

By Stephen C. Schultz

The clouds were low and gray. A few drops tapped the bill of my hat as I pushed the mower along the edge of the sidewalk. The smell of damp cut grass filled the air and a slight breeze blowing from the west let me know a rain shower was on its way.

It was the middle of the morning and I felt a bit of pressure to get the lawn mowed before the storm rolled in. So, I was focused and moving at a little quicker pace than normal. I looked up and saw three of the neighbor kids climbing in one of my trees. I kept the mower going and moved closer to the tree. On my way towards them, they noticed that I saw them. They looked away and then glanced back at me with that childhood curiosity that screams;

“Is he going to tell us to get down? Are we going to get in trouble? Will he tell our parents?”

In the fifty feet it took me to get to the tree, I also had a flood of thoughts. I recalled many instances in my childhood climbing trees and having make-believe adventures around the neighborhood. I remembered times playing in the neighbors yard, riding bikes up and down the sidewalk complete with Evel Knievel jumps and taking adventurous trips to the reservoir with our Red Rider BB Guns!

As I got closer to the tree, I turned off the mower. I stepped to the base of the tree and looked up. They didn't say a thing. I let the awkwardness hang in the air for just a bit more then I said,

“I love climbing trees! I used to climb tree's all the time when I was your age!”

The three boys relaxed a bit and one said, “Yeah, it's fun! I climb trees at my grandmas house!”

I then asked them,

“Do any of you know first aide?”

They looked at me quizzically.

I explained that first aide is what you do when someone gets hurt. If someone fell and scraped their arm or fell and broke a leg. This is what you do to help someone who is hurt. I mentioned to them that sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes things go wrong even when you are being very careful.

One boy piped up and said, “Yeah, but we know what we are doing!”

I replied, “I know you do! You guys are great tree climbers! But, there are lots of grown ups who know what they are doing when they drive a car. Sometimes even they get in accidents.”

I mentioned that it might be a good idea to have a plan if someone got hurt.

“We don't have a plan!” the youngest boy piped up!

I told them I was going to finish mowing the lawn. If someone fell or got hurt, they could come get me and I would help. That could be their plan.

I turned toward the mower and started walking away. One at a time, they came down out of the tree. They got on their bikes and road down the street. About five minutes later they were riding their bikes back towards the tree. They had a blanket and a little bag. They spread the blanket out on the grass under the tree and pulled some POP Tarts (A breakfast pastry you put in the toaster.) out of the bag. They sat on the blanket, under the tree, eating their little snack!

There really isn't some insightful message or parenting tip in this story. It is simply an experience I had with three young kids in the neighborhood that I thought I would share. If nothing else, it allowed me to think back on my childhood and recall some of the memorable adventures I had as a kid.

What are some of your adventures from childhood? Feel free to comment and share!  


Anonymous said…
I love this! Isn't it great that they felt comfortable enough with you that they could put their blanket on "your" grass under "their" tree and have a picnic adventure.
Thank you anonymous for the comment. I'm glad they feel comfortable. I remember my own childhood all too well and the many interactions I had with neighbors!
webmaster said…
Love this, Stephen. I too recall those days, and love to chat with the kids in the neighborhood about "stuff"--sometimes, just that connection is all that matters!
Liz Gordon said…
Oh Boy, does this ever remind me of my childhood! And strangely enough, yesterday I was in Milwaukee (after almost 30 yrs!) and drove past my childhood home. Flooded with memories of all the things we used to do: climb trees and roof tops, play Army, run through neighbors' yards, and ride bikes for what seemed like miles... and go down to the beach without parental supervision! Nice story, Steve.
Jill said…
Thank you for sharing this special connection you had and your ability to slip in a "teachable moment" which made a morning of tree climbing and pop tart eating into a life long lesson. Well done!
Liz, Thanks so much for the comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Like you, I find myself looking back on my childhood adventures. I try to share as many as I can with my own kids. Fun stuff!
Thank you Jill for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your kind words.
My good friend Martha Moses sent me this email in response to this particular blog post. Martha is an Educational Consultant based in Florida. I thought I would share her experience here in the comments section so all can see it!


This is wonderful.. Thank you.

On the street where we lived for 30 years there was a big oak tree that was the domain of all the neighborhood kids. With about 25 or 30 kids in the neighborhood, there were always a few kids in the tree. One day a new family bought the house where the tree was and told the kids that they were no longer welcome to play there. It was a sad day for all of us. That family ended up moving within about a year and the new neighbors returned the tree to the kids. Happy ending. Kids and trees do belong together.


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