Why Do I Even Care About Children In Dickinson, North Dakota

In my previous blog post, I wrote about my concern over not seeing children playing in Dickinson, North Dakota.  I do see that about 10% to 15% of the families in Dickinson do sign their kids up for, and drop their kids off at soccer, hockey, basketball, swimming, baseball, and tennis.  It is good that these families get their children involved in sports and activities.  I would say that these same families probably keep close watch over how their kids are doing in school, and what they are doing after school.

Unfortunately, outside of the small percentage of children that get dropped off at after school athletic practice, I don’t see children playing anywhere in Dickinson.  In my previous blog post, I gave many lists of reasons why children aren’t outside playing in Dickinson.  To simplify the reasons, it comes down to the fact that mothers and fathers are struggling with time, money, and energy, and it is easier for them to have their children stay inside where nothing can happen to them, they won’t get hurt, and they won’t get into trouble.

However in Dickinson, this is the worst that I have ever seen things for children.  One of the reasons why things may be the worst for children, is probably because about half of the families with children have lived here for five years or less.  These parents that moved here for the oil boom, they don’t have grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, for their children to spend time with and do activities with.  Especially parents from the South, they probably don’t mix very well with the local people, and their children probably have some trouble in school getting along with local children.

That’s what is going on, but why do I care?  In Dickinson, to put it politely, the adult local people here are the most hostile, unfriendly, uncooperative, unhelpful, narrow minded, ignorant, uneducated, primitive people that I have ever seen.  I don’t want the local children to turn out like their parents.  I don’t want the out of state children to grow up and be like the local people here.

I would like to see the children in Dickinson outside colonizing vacant lots and building forts with scavenged material and found junk.  I would like to see them building tree houses.  I would like to see them outside exploring drainage ditches, canals, old barns, old bridges, and woods.  I would like to see them using their imagination, following their curiosity, developing an appreciation for adventure, enjoying exploring new things.  Knowing that it is O.K. to have fun, to have adventure, to dream and use their imagination.

I don’t want the children here to turn out like their parents, kept down, kept ignorant, kept uneducated, scared of everything new, scared to try anything new, and sour about everything that is new, foreign, or unfamiliar.  The adult local people in Dickinson remain fixed in their ways partly because of their own fear, and partly out of being conditioned to reject education, new ideas, and new ways of doing things.

Some examples:

  • I met a local man in his 70s, who was walking for exercise in the T-Rex Mall, which is about 150 feet long and 25 feet wide inside.  I talked to him about the West River Community Center which has an indoor lap track that is 1,000 feet long.  I explained that there are many older people who go there to exercise, to walk the track, to use the indoor pool, to use all the different kinds of exercise equipment.  This older gentleman was just too scared to go to the West River Community Center.  I know two other older local men, one 60 years old, and one 66 years old, and they are both too scared to go to the West River Community Center, even though they are both lonely and interested in meeting women.
  • I know more than several local people in Dickinson who are very interested in history and rodeo, but they have never been to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, some of them have never even heard of it.  I explained that the downstairs is a museum of North Dakota history, with old photographs, old tools, old clothes, old firearms, and old wagons.  They are interested, but they are too scared to go, even though it is only about fifty miles to the west on the interstate.
  • I have met several local people who never learned how to swim.  They would like to go boating on Patterson Lake or the Missouri River, but they have never been boating in their life.  They believe that if they were even fishing from the bank on Patterson Lake, they would drown if they fell in.  They probably would, because they are so scared of drowning and swimming is such a mystery to them that they can’t understand how to do it.
  • I hired a local person to come to work with me in Watford City.  This local person is almost 60 years old, and he has lived in Dickinson his whole life.  The last time he had been through Watford City was about ten years ago, though he had been to Watford City many times in his life.  The town of Watford City is about 1/2 mile wide by 1/2 mile long, with about 10,000 people.  In the first week, he got lost three times in Watford City, once while he was following me.  Twice he became very upset because he was so disoriented and confused. One of these times I was able to give him directions on the phone, the other time I had to go and get him.
  • A very good location for fishing, camping, and getting away from people is Cedar Dam Reservoir which is about six miles south of New England.  There is a sign for Cedar Dam Reservoir on Highway 22.  This would be an excellent place for high school students to take their girlfriends, because there is hardly ever anyone there, and there are miles of places to park on public land.  I asked one of the wildest New England girls if she had been to Cedar Dam Reservoir, and she had never heard of it, or been there.  I asked many local people who fish, if they had been to Cedar Dam Reservoir, some of them have never heard of it, most of them have never been there, though it is only about 35 miles south of Dickinson off Highway 22.

In the examples that I gave above, I was trying to explain that I have only lived in Dickinson for less than five years, but I have been many places not far from Dickinson, that lifelong residents of Dickinson have never been to, or even heard of.  This should not be.  They have been brought up and conditioned to believe that what they know, is all they need to know, they don’t need to know anything else.  That what they don’t know, is not worth knowing.  They have also been brought up and conditioned to not go looking for anything else, there is nothing else, and they need to stay right where they are, or something bad will happen.

The point of this blog post, was to explain that I don’t want children in Dickinson to be scared or unaccustomed to getting out, exploring, playing, having fun, taking risks, seeking adventure, and trying new things.  I don’t want them to turn out like the adult local people here.

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