I recall growing up in a more wholesome, less complicated time. True – all the old people say that, in every generation.
Grandma Mildred would tell me stories how she used to get a Hershey bar for a nickel. A nickel? A nickel. When my dad was a child he’d walk home for lunch and grandma would make him a hot hamburger and home fries. Today it’s either a mom who works full-time sticking processed junk food like dunkaroos and sweetened peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in brown paper bags or the new age mom who manages to do a yoga class before the rest of the world wakes up, packaging some organic alfalfa sprouts with quinoa and a side of free range egg salad in an pvc-free Tupperware. There seems to be no in-between. I’ll readily admit that I fall into that first category and try to convince them to take at least one fruit or vegetable to even things out a bit.
I would spend summers, lazing around, figuring out what to do, playing with neighborhood friends, exploring nature around the block on my bike or across in the empty field. I collected fireflies in the evenings and kept them in a washed out jar with holes poked through the cap. I walked barefoot in the backyard. I won goldfish in carnivals and took them home in plastic baggies only to mourn them about a week later.
This evening my 8-year-old daughter wanted to know if we could get a turtle. I was quick with my response, “ew they smell”, while shaking my head no. I am not a pet person. Her face was sad. Even though I loved my goldfish and took extra care of them, washing their bowls when they got murky and feeding them just the right amount, I fear if I get my 10-year-old the hamster she wants, the turtle my 7-year-old wants and the dog my 13-year-old wants I’ll be cleaning up more poop than I bargained for. I’m a softie and I’ll probably give in to the turtle – but nothing with fur on it.
I often hear my kids begging me to watch one more episode of tv or to play one more level on the Wii or if they can play on my iPhone, and when I say no there are serious tantrums and raised voices. Then comes my calm voice of reason – there are other things you can do I tell them. Then come the stares and horrified looks as I suggest playing a game with each other or reading a book, or taking a walk or heaven forbid, helping me with the laundry. Sure I remember getting disappointed if there was something I wanted to do and my mom would nix it, but for the most part I sulked quietly after one slam of the bedroom door. I would listen to my radio or draw pictures or daydream.
Maybe I’m not remembering things clearly but in today’s fast paced world we need to remember to go back to the basics. When sometimes not stimulating the brain every 3 seconds can be a good thing.