So last night our power went out. Thankfully we had just finished eating dinner, so there was no emergency there. It was about 6:30pm and Bean was getting ready to finish her homework. We went outside to make sure it wasn’t just our house and as it turned out it was the entire block. So in order to take advantage of the last dying light of day, all the kids in the neighborhood were outside trying to entertain themselves. They had all been uprooted from their tablets, laptops and TVs. I was forced to refrain from using my cell phone as much as possible for fear of a drained battery. To me, this was great. To the neighborhood kids….this was absolute TORTURE. I shit you not. One boy, about 8 years old, just couldn’t fathom the idea of not being able to use his laptop. he figured since it was on, the WiFi just sort of automatically came with it. The look of crushing disappointment was tangible. Bean said “It’s OK mommy, I can watch Netflix on the tablet”. I let her live out her fantasy just long enough to put 2 and 2 together.
It dawned on me that today’s kids are being robbed of a very integral part of their childhood; the chance to entertain themselves. As a child, it was my job to entertain myself. My parents worked, they couldn’t make sure we had endless amounts of projects and things to hold our attention. We had to handle that ourselves. They supplied with things to help; water guns, chalk, games, etc. But the responsibility to put those to good use rested with us. There was one rule in our house. If the sun was out, so were we. I am firm believer that kids do NOT belong inside if the weather is nice. We had Nintendos when we were kids, but those were for rainy days or sick days. We also had a swing set and a backyard. We caught all manner of animals. Even my own child is being robbed of this opportunity because of my tech addiction.
So last night one of the neighbors set up their basketball hoop and the kids played HORSE. Bean had played this on the Wii but never in real life *parent fail*. The first time she didn’t make a basket, she was fine. But by the 5th or 6th time, she became noticeably defeated. We kept encouraging her, telling her she couldn’t quit, and when she finally found her stride, she lit up like a Christmas tree. She didn’t want to stop playing after that. She didn’t realize that by not giving up, she learned that she enjoyed something new. The Wii can’t teach her that. Then all the kids were racing around on scooters and skateboards and it was great. If it wasn’t a school night we probably would’ve brought out the grills, coolers and tiki torches and had a block party. I noticed that all the kids blossomed more than I had seen all summer. Bean even made new friends.
Because the stuff in the freezer was warming up, all the kids got popsicles. It was great. All it took for this neighborhood bonding was a complete loss of all things electronic. We are all guilty of it. At what point did it become acceptable to let kids miss out on their childhoods? When did it become OK for Netflix and Minecraft to raise our kids? The answer is NEVER. It should never be OK for our kids to miss out on these activities that are a right of passage for all kids. Missing a basket in front of your friends. Sitting in the bed of a truck eating popsicles. Running around the neighborhood with flashlights playing tag. These are the things resourceful kids are made of. So I think I’ll be flipping the breakers in my house every so often and grabbing a flashlight. There’s nothing like flashlight tag to make you feel like a kid.
Until next time….Keep those toes in the sand and some flashlights handy