Kevin Bell

The One Simple Thing I Do To Teach My Kids To Think Outside The Box

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As much as I can, when I take my girls on a walk to the park or around the block I intentionally walk off the beaten path. If there’s a wall with a ledge to walk on, we walk on it. If there’s a way to climb through the bushes to cut across a field, we go through those bushes.

Lately we’ve been on a parking garage kick. There’s a park about a block away connected to an apartment complex. Instead of just staying by the park and going down the slide (psh, how boring, am I right??) we venture out. Down a walkway, cutting through bushes, under a guard rail and into the parking garage for the tenants at the apartment complex.

We zigzag in between cars, walk up the stairs, ride the elevator, jump over speed bumps and run to the top to look out over everything like we’re in the Lion King.

I do all this with one thought in mind; I never want my kids to stop exploring. Most things that we have to do in life keep us in check. From elementary school on we’re standing in line, walking in line, waiting our turn, holding our tongues and raising our hands.

As we get older, we have to read assigned books, complete specific homework, wake up on time to get to school on time and sit to listen to a teacher that talks about order and obedience.

When we are old enough to drive, we have to drive within the speed limit, stay in our lane, park in the parking stalls. As we start to work, we have to listen to our boss, finish our work on time, be at work on time, leave at the end of our shift, to make money to pay the required bills and take care of our kids that need to wake up on time in order to get to school on time and start the cycle over once again.

Life can become overrun by order. By obedience. By structure. In many ways, we need that order… If you lose that sense of adventure, the structure is all you’ll get know. It’s maybe all you’ll ever want.

BUT, if even in little moments I can take the opportunity to show my girls that you don’t ALWAYS have to walk on the normal path, that things can be climbed on, that there are secret pathways through the bushes if you want there to be, that elevators can become an amusement ride and stairs are fun to run up and down… MAYBE they will learn to think outside of the box.

MAYBE— They’ll start a business or invent an ides that no one has ever thought of before.

MAYBE— They’ll look at life as an obstacle course they want to conquer instead of a hamster wheel they’re stuck on.

MAYBE— They’ll fall in love with learning, change, new environments and other things like that, that so many ADULTS are afraid of.

MAYBE— They’ll look at the world slightly different from the rest and notice things that others don’t.

Truthfully, I don’t know that any of these things will happen. But l’m going to do all I can to help. And, in the very least, I’ll have created memories of wild adventures with my girls that they can take with them the rest of their lives. As they are cutting across the quad in college, they’ll have a flashback of doing that with me. As they are walking to their car in a parking garage, they’ll remember zigzagging between cars as a little girl. And when they are at the park with THEIR kids one day, maybe they’ll remember that there is so much more than the slide and money bars to have fun with.