When I was a kid, I spent hours playing “house” and “school” with my cousin and friends. We made up elaborate scenarios like pretending to take all of our kids (dolls) to the grocery store (kitchen pantry) to buy food for the week while our husbands went to the office to make the money to pay for the groceries.
We’d pretend to admonish our children because they asked for too many sweets while complaining our husbands never took us out to dinner.
As I got a little older, playing house evolved into impersonating elementary school teachers, our biggest prop being a double-sided chalkboard and tons of worksheets we’d gather from our own school days. After lecturing to an empty room, our imaginary students would do their work while we graded papers and came up with pretend homework assignments.
By the time I was a pre-teen I was beyond using my imagination to fill my free time. Instead I opted to bike with friends to the local park and play tennis, blindfold each other and guess what was being fed to us (once my best friend gave me a mouthful of dry dog food …YUCK!), and often we’d just hang out on the swing set talking about life.
When I was in high school I had a part-time job scooping ice cream, and I spent a lot of my summer hours babysitting or listening to the radio while slathered in baby oil, gossiping about the latest relationship dramas with my girlfriends.
What did you do for fun when you were a kid?
Nature Valley (the granola bar company) recently came out with a short video asking this same question to three generations of family members. Two of the three generations described activities similar to what I have above, and much of it involved the outdoors. When interviewed, the youngest generation answered: playing video games, texting, and watching multiple episodes of television programming on their iPads.
The gist of the video’s message is that exploring nature and spending time with others outdoors, essentially looking at something other than a screen, will die out with my generation if we don’t pay attention. It is a thought-provoking video.
I know I am not the only parent who has to work at regularly reengaging their children back to the real world. That is not to say they don’t ever do anything other than use technology, but what I’ve observed with the passing of time and the prevalence of electronics is that the majority of days they’d rather sit and communicate with a screen than with their friends, parents and siblings.
Do you know a family like mine? If so, what do they do to help their kids from being continually seduced by technology? I’d love some new, creative ideas because one thing’s for sure … it’s not going away.
Kimberly Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five and author of “My Mothers Footprints: A story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace.” To see more of her work or to contact her, visit www.mymothersfootprints.com.