Back to Basics
“When I was little, we didn't even HAVE computers.” I find myself saying things like this to my kids (8 & 12 - not pictured) a lot these days. Much to my dismay, the “good-ol-days” stories just seem to pour out of my mouth. Who is this person? I hated adolescents. I was soooo booooored. And, we moved a lot. Like, a lot a lot. In my memory, somewhere around 7-8 times between my birth and 5th grade. It did have it’s moments, of course - like the small Nebraska town where we played in the streets with the neighbor kids and all knew to come home for dinner when the street lights came on. Yeah, just like the wonder years - but with Micheal Jackson on a boom-box and big wheel races. I don’t think my parents really had any idea where I was - other than somewhere within a 4 block radius. I was in 2nd grade. And that’s just how it was.. way back then.
Now, as a parent, when I tell my kids to go outside and play, they ask me to come with them. To play with them. Because there’s no one out there to play with. All the kids are inside, online and plugged in. Granted, our particular suburban street has a large amount of elderly residents - but I never, NEVER see kids just cruising around playing unless it’s in their own yard like dogs with invisible fences.
What I wish for my kids now is boredom. Moments when their minds are not occupied with constant stimulation. Where they don’t know what to do, so they do nothing. At the moment, they just pace around in circles and make screechy noises - and I’m reminded of why it’s so tempting to just put flickering lights in front of their face. But, if I’m lucky, they find something, and forget that they are missing technology at all. I’ve always embraced an “everything in moderation” strategy when dealing with the things I give and allow my kids. I refuse to raise them in a bubble, and I refuse to spoil them rotten. But now, I’m enforcing “screen-free” days for the whole fam. Because, given a choice - we all default to filling empty time with devices instead of just letting it be empty.
So maybe now, instead of “Let them play” - I’ll just say “Let them be bored.” It’s kind-of magical.