5,6,7,8,9,10…ready or not here I come! I had the most AMAZING childhood, seriously it couldn’t have gotten any better. A part of it could be the nostalgia of times past, but I am pretty sure my family rocked, (my mom and grandparents in particular). Hello! a childhood with no iPad, iPhone, tablets, electronics of any kind what was a child to do? Uh, plenty I promise. There was rarely a moment when my brother or I would utter the words, “I’m so bored!”
In the summer it was lying in wait behind the bushes crouching trying to be as quite and ninja-like as a 4-year-old possibly could be as I waited with baited breath in hopes that mom would happen to see or hear my brother first. When one of us happened to stumble or giggle my mom would yell, “got you!” and it would become a race around that old tall tree in the front yard to see who could outrun mom.
It was the afternoons of my mom using pure imagination and whimsy when it came to Barbie. We never had much money growing up so there was no Barbie Dream House or pool in my future. It was pulling out pots, pans, and boxes to construct and replicate our own Barbie Dream House and pool. It honestly never occurred to me not every girl had to use a plastic Tupperware bowl or pot as Barbie’s swimming pool. I was the luckiest girl in the world, in my eyes I got the undivided attention and a playmate for Barbie every time my mom sat down if even for an hour.
Saturdays were filled by Grandpa picking up all of us kids and stopping at McDonald’s for a chicken McNugget happy meal for each one of us, (these were the times of Grimace, Hamburgler, and Ronald McDonald some pretty cool dudes according to us) and spending the day at the park with one of the most awe-inspiring, (and to be completely honest most terrifying men we knew).
Sundays were the best reserved for Winchell’s Donuts at Grandma and Grandpa’s and dressing in our finest, (girls wore dresses and the boys wore slacks and ties) and heading to church. We never thought to argue with Grandma on the importance of church back then, what Grandma said was the Golden Rule and was absolutely never questioned. If Grandma said you were going to church, you were going to church. Plus we always felt mighty important placing that dime in the children’s offering plate. Church was followed by whole made warm caramel pecan rolls and pot roast or chicken dinners at Grandma’s once again.
It was a time of church being touted as the norm rather than being rare. In many small towns and cities if you didn’t attend church you were talked about and prayed for.
It was a time of Nut Rolls after school, (Grandpa’s favorite candy) and running through Grandma’s clean sheets out on the line, (fresh sheets hung on a line is definitely still my favorite smell today), and drinking water straight from the hose. We thrived on imagination, family, and cheap entertainment. Children who had less were often times not even as aware as the youth of today that they were less fortunate. It had to do with the fact that we actually depended on ourselves and the outdoors to entertain us rather than the latest gadget. We were one of the last generations of the unplugged. Obviously later on the Atari and retro Nintendo were born (Super Mario Brothers or Duckhunt anyone)?
I guess that is one of the main conundrums of the youth today is that they are being told by us the parents and guardians to go outdoors and use their imaginations and exercise, (how many kids actually know how to build an awesome fort not in Minecraft but in their own backyard)! All the while being pulled in the other directions by peers, corporations, and the educational system to continue to invest their time in Twitter, Facebook, FNAF, Snapchat, promise educational value etc. (whatever app or electronic may be trending at the moment).
I totally get that technology is completely awesome, (I love technology!) But, my fear is that we are no longer allowing our children to use their imagination and explore the possibility that there are no limitations in life to where your own imagination and brain can take you. You don’t need a computer, tablet, or phone to be an astronaut, doctor, President, cowboy, or Princess. Your own brain is wired to take you anywhere you want to go! For Pete’s sake, we have teachers in the educational system discouraging our children from daydreaming and imagining what their life could be!
The imagination is what allows us to have doctors, lawyers, civil rights leaders, Presidents, small business owners, firefighters, the list goes on. We don’t want our children to be ordinary challenge them to be the extraordinary! Technology is all well and good but when it becomes a liability rather than an asset and your child can no longer entertain themselves without an electronic we have huge problems!
So, here it is folks, in a nutshell, my challenge to you for the week, summer, or even year. I want all of us to unplug whether it is 1 hour, 2 hours, or all day. Spend time with the youth of today, (whether it’s your own children or the children next door or down the street) build forts, play barbies, chase them in the dark playing hide and seek, or even a good old-fashioned game of kick the can! Invest in the future, our future and expand the horizons and imagination of kids. Get to know them rather than stick them on another video game.
This is how we begin to heal not only the country but the world. We are not spending enough time with our kids. I get it it’s easier to put them in front of the tv or computer than play a game of hide and seek. But, that is what they need our undivided attention for hours at a time to show yes, we do care about them and their wants and needs. Their imagination needs to run wild and needs to be unplugged from the gadgets. By doing so we are raising the next generation to be independent thinkers and doers rather than letting the technology do all the thinking for them.
Plus, by encouraging daydreaming and imagining we are creating some of the most amazing and memorable moments that are children will someday remember and hopefully pass on. Some of my best memories are just of a simpler time where I just spent time with my family eating, laughing, playing, and imagining what I could do or be.That is what I want for my kids to have these amazing memories of just playing, laughing, eating together, and just imagining what they can do and be. I want them to have the memories of Jesse and I that I have of growing up. I want them to grow up and know of a life of being unplugged.