Monday, November 15, 2010

A Good Place For Kids

You know how some things just linger in your head and bother you? Way past the time that you should have forgotten all about them? Well, I've been pondering something since the summer that I can't get rid of. It's really no big deal, but I'm curious what other people think. So...

We were at a barbecue, at the house of someone that Bryce knows through work. I had never met these people before (they were really nice), and didn't know anyone there. I spent most of my time chasing the kids around, trying to get them to eat, but at the end of the evening I wound up sitting next to a bonfire with a group of people that seemed to be already acquainted. One of the couples had a young boy about Porter's age. Everyone was discussing the town we live in. Some good things. Some bad things. Normal stuff. And then the woman with the son declares that they are moving soon, because she doesn't want her child to grow up here. The reason being that there isn't anything for kids to do.

Now, I had previously been kind of silent, not knowing anyone. But I couldn't help it, and said (probably too loudly): What are you talking about? There is a ton for kids to do here! This was followed by some silence and general backpedaling, but I could tell she was annoyed. And I didn't mean to be rude or so outspoken at all. But I sort of couldn't believe it. I mean, I'm a bit biased, because I love it here. But we have much of the "normal" stuff: libraries, playgrounds, a swimming pool, summer camps, sports, gyms, dancing, movies theaters, etc. Plus we have this huge backyard full of trails and mountains and oceans and rivers. There is skiing and fishing and camping. And I just have a hard time understanding how your kid couldn't find anything to do.

And I have to say that I really do understand how you could not want to live here. There are a ton of reasons why this wouldn't be the place for your family, just like I don't want to move to New York City or Arizona. Even though I know some people really love it there. But. It's not because there wouldn't be anything for my kids to do. I'm of the opinion that kids don't need a whole hell of a lot to entertain themselves, and that there are very few places where you could actually claim that kids were deprived of activity.

So it made me super defensive that someone could claim this was a bad place to raise kids. Because we don't have a zoo? Or Chuck E. Cheese? Or Taco Bell? I guess I don't really know what they thought they were missing. And I'm curious what my friends that live all over the country (and the world) think about the places they choose to call home. Have you ever been worried about your kids there? Does any of this even make sense? And my local friends, what do you think? Do you love where you live? Because that seems like the most important thing to me.


  1. You do live in the perfect place to raise children. And, you two are the perfect parents too do it. They are going to grow up grounded in nature, the sciences. Because of your ability to travel and come south they get to experiance some things that Juneau might not have right now.

    I have found memories of my time in Alaska back in the 60s, we ran wild in the woods, played in the lakes. Little brothers put 'moose eggs' under their pillows to hatch into baby moose. We eat pretty much every berry we found and built our tree forts out in the woods, just above the antlers reach of the moose. Ice skated every day at lunch and after school, and didn't have a single person in my world overweight.

  2. When my family talks about our fondest memories of childhood, we do not talk about times at zoos or amusement parks. We talk about the time we spent in a log cabin with no electricity on a little island. We vacationed there for two weeks each year. I am so happy to raise my kids where they can do what we did on that island any day we chose to. We can vacation where there are zoos and amusement parks for two weeks each year.

  3. This post made me stop and do some thinking. I can relate to both sides of the coin. I grew up in small towns and didn't feel like I missed a whole lot as a kid. Although I know that my opportunities were not as great as those as my cousins who lived in bigger cities. Now as a parent, I am not in love with the place I live. I look forward to moving especially to a place where opportunities are greater for my children. Although I think growing up with the wilderness in back yard was priceless and would love to go back there, it doesn't seem like it is an option for us. I guess I want to live in a small town with access to the bigger city to have the opportunities but I still have the positives of my small town upbringing. I guess I want my cake and eat it too. :) I will need to explore this more.

  4. I think we all base what we want for our children on what we experienced as children. For some, we want them to have the same experiences, others want exactly the opposite. I suspect Juneau simply doesn't fit this mom's expectations of what children should be able to experience.

    There are always plenty of things for kids to do, no matter where you live. No place has everything. I don't love with where I live, but I certainly don't worry about raising my son here. I have far more influence on his opportunities and experiences than the city we live in.

  5. Thanks for all the comments! It does really help to hash it out and hear from others.

    Lori, I agree. It's really more about the parenting and the life you live than where you live it.

  6. I hope my kids like Kodiak because that's where they are going to grow up! And Guess what - they get to hike and hunt and collect food from tide pools. Not many places left in America where they can do that! Patrick

  7. I believe you know my thoughts on the topic. But yes, when it all comes down to it... it's all about the parenting. Last night, we watched a photo slideshow from when we were living in Texas. All the while we lived there, I didn't identify with anything around me... so commercialized and so much greed--but looking back on our photos, I realized how much fun we had together! We did all kinds of cool things at home. I absolutely am thrilled to now be raising my kids here now though. Not only is it an outdoor wonderland, it's a great community too.

  8. If I had the opportunity I would raise my children in such similar surroundings. I believe nature is the best element for children. Food chains are not important and animals should be seen in the wild and not in a zoo. In our country we do not have a zoo and nature is very limited here, however we do have plenty of outdoor activities were we can go and that is important. CHildren need outdoor activities and good quality time .