Some of my fondest childhood memories are of warm summer days spent riding bikes and playing wiffle ball till the sun went down. Long games of manhunt could have never ended for all we cared, as long as we took a break when the ice cream truck came down the block. There weren’t enough hours in the day to skip rocks, ride skateboards or explore the woods down the block. We were rarely bored and our imaginations ran wild, as did we.
When we weren’t outside, our indoor life revolved around family. There was no television at dinner and there certainly wasn’t any toys, hats, or other paraphernalia allowed at the table. Dinner was just about eating food and sharing quality time together while we took turns talking about our days. As children this wasn’t always the first thing we wanted to do, but it helped to instill important family values in all of us.
On weekend mornings aside from a run to the bakery with my dad to bring home some fresh eats and coffee for mom, we usually all took part in a chore of some sort. I remember dad always had a project going around the house, or in the yard and myself or one of my brothers would be his apprentice for the day. We painted, we swept, we threw out garbage and occasionally got to swing a hammer or saw some wood. Some days we were really into it and other days we couldn’t keep our eyes off our bikes that were waiting for us to ride until dusk! Life was good, and if nothing else, wholesome. Unfortunately today many of our children are deprived. Yes you heard me deprived!
In today’s age of modern
Now before I explain id like to start by stating that we as a family have always had restrictions on electronics and video games etc. Our children are active and are enrolled in sports and education programs and are far from television zombies. But its the downtime that I’m focusing on here. It all started a few months back..
It was a warm Saturday in May and a friend of mine from work was coming to meet me to purchase my broken down old car. He had some mechanic background and was coming to get that old baby up and running. Old faithful was parked in the garage at my grandmas house a few miles away from my home. We planned to meet there so he could fix and take the car that day. My friend had told me he was going to bring his little boy with him, so I thought it would be a great idea to bring mine. The kids were close enough in age to play together and I thought he might have some fun. My friend is from Mexico and he currently lives in a small neighborhood in not the best part of town. Most of the families in that area are poverty stricken and are living much different lives than the average American families are used to. I knew the different backgrounds would be new for the boys but I never realized how different they would be!
I pulled up with my son and there was big George and little George waiting patiently for us. My little boy got out of the car iPad in hand and walked across to meet his new playmate. Little George didn’t have an iPad but had an old ratty skateboard by his side instead. The boys were young, Georgie at six and Joseph almost five. We let the kids play nearby while George and I worked on the car. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between the little ones which I found quite intriguing. My son first asked “where’s your iPad” as if it were a staple that all little boys were supposed to have iPads. Then I heard little Georgie ask my boy if he wanted to play touch tag,to which my son replied “what’s that?”. “What’s that?” I thought. “Who doesn’t know how to play touch tag at that age?” Apparently my son. He also didn’t know how to race on his knees on a skateboard, nor did he know how to play manhunt or handball against the garage door. Now I’m not bashing my little guy here, but I assumed that by now he’d have know this stuff. I did. My friend had explained to me that where little George lived most of the homes were fairly small so the kids spent most of the time outside. A few toys and bikes shared throughout the neighborhood were all these kids needed for fun, and something tells me there weren’t too many ipads floating around either. As the day went on big Georgie would occasionally ask his boy to hand him a tool. In one instance he said, “hand me a phillips”. He didn’t say a screw driver but a philips. The little boy handed him a phillips while my son asked me who Philip was. George also asked his son to hold a greasy brake pad for him, and he did. The little boy then looked for a rag to wipe his hands. I don’t think my son would have held the dirty brake, and if he did he would then have held out his hands for me to wipe them off for him. I was noticing a trend here, and I wasn’t very happy about it.
As the day continued my son had a blast. By the time we left he had grass stains on his knees and he was sweaty and out of breath. The ipad hadn’t been used all day. Joseph was very upset that he had to leave his new buddy, after all this was a day filled with all sorts of newfound fun. When the two of us got in the car Joseph began explaining to me at high speed all the fun he had, and the new games he had learned. He even played his first game of rock paper scissors.
You see, where little Georgie came from is a much different place than where little Joseph comes from. Not just in location but in life. The fact is though, that we all used to come from that place before
The very next weekend we were invited to dinner at our cousins house. It was a fairly big get together with many little kids. These days if it isn’t video games being played at these functions its iPads. After last weeks revelation my wife and I decided to leave the iPad home. Upon entering the house my son said his hellos to the family and proceeded to his cousins playroom. When he got there both video game controls were being used and two other cousins waiting for their turn on the wii were showing him new apps on their iPads. Houston we have a problem!! Within minutes, he was by my side asking for his iPad. I stood by guns and said no. But why weren’t these kids in the yard playing hide and go seek, or basketball, or tag? That’s what we were doing at our family get together’s. Could it be they were brainwashing themselves with all of these devices? And then it dawned on me, its our fault, we are the ones responsible for brainwashing them with all of these devices! It appears modern
Parents have gotten all too comfortable with the “helping hand” that
Its taken some time and some arguments but at least in our house we have changed our ways. The iPad still has its moments (I still think used in moderation it can be very educational) but they are very limited. I’ve also focused on spending more time out doors with the kids, no matter what the weather armed mostly with our imaginations. We’ve put in place a light chore schedule to help teach the basics that we’ve strayed so far from. TV at dinner is only allowed on Fridays (as we have realized it is impossible to make it obsolete at this point). We now have some interesting family discussions at this time which really have been wonderful. Wiis and xboxs are also more restricted now than ever and are played only for a one hour clip every other day.
We may have started a change in our children’s life but unfortunately it seems the web has already been woven in this new generation. I can only hope that history repeats itself, and that the kids will get back to the basics and the simplicity of their youths. Bikes need to be rode, balls need to be caught, and hula hoops need to be spun. True life lessons and values still need to be put in place. But most importantly the little’s ones need time to learn and breath on their own without the aid of gadgets. I just hope its not too late!