Would we have been Friends if we’d Met when we were Kids?

Before Ben got his mini-bike, he was making all the parts of a mini-bike out of cardboard to attach to his regular bike.

In a radio interview with movie director Robert Zemeckis, I learned about the origin of the movie, Back to the Future. Robert and his writing buddy were talking about their fathers, and their relationships with their fathers, and wondering if they had met their dads when they were kids, if they would have been friends.

That was the seed, he said, from which sprouted the idea for Back to the Future, where a young man finds a way to go back into the past to help his parents. He runs into them there when they are all the same age. I will have to admit needing a refresher, and we will soon watch that movie with the kids.

Ben is always wanting to go back in time so he can be eight years old right alongside his dad and ride bikes and be cool with him, which is just about the best compliment a dad can get. Although, as my husband thought about the implications of actually being able to play together as kids, he realized, he probably wouldn’t have been allowed to play with Ben if they were kids at the same time. Ben would have been considered a bad influence. He is loud and sometimes rambunctious, and he rides a dirt bike all day Sunday.

Ben is getting to do all the things Scott never got to do. That’s one of the reasons we let him ride mini-bikes and work in the shop right alongside his dad, and build iron-man prototypes out of pieces he collects from the scrap metal pile. Because Scott wasn’t allowed. He’s not complaining or anything. He ended up with the coolest bicycle in his neighborhood, because he worked for every part he used to hot rod it.

We had a late dinner. It was getting close to bed-time and I started to send the kids to bed. Ben looked at me with these forlorn eyes, and said, “Aren’t we going to do Science Night? Don’t we get to watch the video of the nine-year old boy and his arcade?”

Wednesday, the story of Caine’s Arcade went viral Again after being highlighted at the Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley, CA. Twitter was going crazy with the hashmarks #SIS12, #cardboardchallenge, @CainesArcade, @imagination, and @nirvan – I’d heard about it and watched the video and because our Art Project last night lasted longer than I’d expected, I promised the boys we’d watch Caine’s Arcade tonight.

Watching it again with my boys, and seeing their eyes light up in imaginative recognition of another kid’s creativity was so much fun. These boys are always creating things out of paper or cardboard or wood or metal. This is what they do. But to see them excited over a global project and getting other kids involved in the fun of creation was delightful.

Already, I am trying to find some corporate sponsor types to help get the word on the street and mobilize for our own Cardboard Challenge right here in Southern Oregon. There are plenty of places that could donate their used boxes, and there are plenty of kids with creativity that would love a chance to shine. I would love to see the people running local businesses see the creative resources they have right here in town – that need to be continually fostered and developed until these kids are old enough to contribute their skills to the marketplace.

It may be a stretch to say this is all related: the interview with Robert Zemeckis, the going back in time to be a kid alongside a parent, and the whole whirlwind of Caine’s Arcade. But I think all I am ever wanting to do is give my kids every opportunity to learn and grow and use their imaginations. We feed them on big ideas. They hatch a hair-brained plan to write a movie, and we are right there showing them how to storyboard their idea.

If the next stage of our development is partnering with an already big idea, learning to take ideas to a larger audience, and involving other people in the blazing growth and wonder of imaginative play – I am all in.

I would have been the kid on the sidelines starstruck over the genius of these boys.

One thought on “Would we have been Friends if we’d Met when we were Kids?

  1. This was new to me. What a heartwarming story of an act of kindness to a boy and how much was gained by it for not just him but so many. I love the idea of this foundation. I will have to research more about it as nothing is better than investing in the future of our children.

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