Wednesday 23 October 2019

The 'Bucket list' for kids aged 4¾


THE NATIONAL Trust in Britain has issued a bucket list-style document outlining 50 outdoor challenges which most children should complete by the age of 12. It makes for interesting reading, and includes activities that should jog your own memories such as finding frogspawn, catching crabs (steady on) and lighting a fire without matches.

I recently saw the latter on a bucket list for grown-ups too: I have never started a fire without a match, I think, but imagine I'll beat my chest, apelike, in celebration should I ever do. There are also a few challenges included on the list that need adult supervision such as rafting, abseiling, canoeing and feeling like you're flying in the wind. It mentions calling an owl, though hooting is hardly something I expect to regret not doing, come my final day.

Checklists are fine if you are the type of person that needs routine and order to feel like you have lived a fulfilled day. On the contrary, they might also leave you fretting about the things that have passed you by, that old 'missing out' feeling niggling away. However, should you look at what you have achieved then more than likely you will have enjoyed more interesting experiences than those included on any list concocted by possibly restricted or one-dimensional minds.

The list got me thinking about the young lad and younger lad, their cousins and pals, and I started noting things that they have achieved by the age of four and three-quarters. It seems that between them they are thrashing their way through life with gusto, and if they were compiling a ' bucket list' for the younger ones, here are seven of the more colourful accomplishments they might pencil into the must-be-completed section.

1) Be carried kicking and screaming out of a place of worship. This has long been a bone of contention with other adults as many will argue that tiny tots should be kept from buildings where those of religious persuasions congregate, until they are old enough to behave accordingly. However, there are no laws banning tots from attending and unless security reinforcements are hired to start checking children for ID, the kickers and screamers will continue to have their say at weekend ceremonies. It's almost part of the show.

2) Make a set of car keys disappear. I have lost count of the number of times car keys have gone missing, only for this to be discovered by the adult as they are about to go out the door. In one case, the missing keys were found at the bottom of a Santa sock hanging by the fireplace. Solution? Keep the keys up high, or attach a whistling gadget.

3) Say a swear word that will make Mammy blush. Do you remember your first swear word? Probably not, but there is a strong chance that your parents do. No matter how much cotton wool we put in kids' ears they will hear the odd beep word that they can come out with, in company, to leave you red-faced. And though we might think our vocabulary is pure, those little ears are listening even when you think they are out of sight.

4) Have several changes in your choice of career. It's one of my favourite chats with kids, asking them what they would like to be when they grow up. The young lad has flittered between soldier, Power Ranger, professional footballer (please God), chef and most recently a prosecutor. He heard the word in one of his Cd/book stories and when I explained to him what a prosecutor does he got strangely excited. Though I sometimes get the feeling he'll be the one the prosecutor may be wanting words with one day.

5) Knock something over in a supermarket. A pot of jam springs to mind. Knocking things over is not the greatest worry when out shopping, but the possibility of tantrums been thrown in public. Wrestling your kid in a shopping aisle is embarrassing, but we've all done it.

6) Call someone in your parents' phones without them knowing. This may not have drastic consequences when you're chatting and chuckling about how wonderful the world is, but wait till mammy and daddy are having a rant about someone/something some day and then you find a third pair of ears has caught wind of the conversation thanks to Junior's ability to unlock your phone. Oh dear.

7) Open the front door and exit. Silence is often a parent's worst nightmare.

If you can't hear them fidgeting about in the next room then more than likely they are up to something. However, the first time you hear the front door going, and then silence, it's time to get a better lock.

The fascination with escapism will stay with them for life.

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