It all starts at a very young age when you choose not to introduce your children to the world of fancy, flashing electronics. You end up with a life of little schemes and threatened home security. A screen-free childhood can be VERY dangerous. Books are at risk, household odors develop, first aid is required, sleepless nights, added expenses and unauthorized uses of axes are all menacing situations you may encounter!
I remember when our child was just about five. Her showers seemed incredibly long. I began to suspect some foul play was involved but every time I interrogated her, I received no answers. Finally, after feeling the time had been extremely excessive, I crept into the bathroom, peeked through the curtain and behold! I see a child showering and a book held high away from the streaming water.
Those poor Bobbsey Twins were inches from their demise. No wonder she took so long in there, she was catching up on her reading!!! Those poor books didn't stand a chance.
Let's fast forward to the age of nine. Her bedroom began to develop the most horrendous odor. Finally my husband and I maintained that this was no average farm aroma and began some investigating. And what did he find lurking suspiciously in a corner but a rotting jar of some kind of bubbling, fermented liquid! When we confronted our daughter on the subject, she exclaimed, "Carla Emory said the smell will last just a little while but eventually the juice will turn into vinegar".
She had transformed her bedroom into some kind of medieval laboratory! Can a child reading homestead books be safe? Perhaps a video game would keep her out of trouble because the unfortunate part of all that reading is that she wanted to start actually DOING.
As we were studying England, she decided she was going to make a four-course dinner in honor of menus she had seen of those fabulous feasts. She wanted to do it all by herself (she was 10 but was becoming quite an accomplished chef with all this screen-free living). Apparently some fried potato item was on the menu and she got a bit too close to that splattering oil and received an unfortunate burn on her little arm. She didn't say anything until after the meal because she was enjoying herself too much. She had self-treated it in the meantime with a bottle of lavender which explained the heavy fragrance in the air (the audacity to administer her own first aid!).
While I did have to tone down her elaborate meal making schemes and create more ground rules (i.e., report any accidents immediately to headquarters), I must admit that she sure can cook right now! Anything she sees she can make or bake but imagine the chaotic kitchen at the time... Imagine Cal/OCIA!
By the age of 11, the requests started coming in. She would like a book on making her own paint (who thinks of these things?). She would like some crochet thread and a hook and perhaps even some knitting needles. She would like to make a drop spindle (I didn't even know what this was). But how can this be when I didn't even know how to do these things? But there it was, the answer was presented to me with her chubby little fingers, The Complete Guide to Needlework was explaining everything (It wasn't an exciting book by any means but it was quite comprehensive!). "You simply follow the instructions mom!"
As a homeschooling teacher, I felt compelled to feed these hobbies but I'm sure some may think I should have just kept a television going to keep her occupied and the expenses down?
Then at the age of 13, I notice the sleeping habits became topsy-turvey. During the day she would be so tired (is this due to growing pains?). But no, apparently the issue was that she snuck into the library at night, removed the unabridged copy of Oliver Twist from the shelf and couldn't sleep until Dickens had told his complete tale! And this would happen with each new novel on the shelf. Teen rebellion at its finest.
Maybe a big dose of social media would keep her more lethargic and sleepy? A love of books was certainly a problem in this household. After all, books were the norm many moons ago, perhaps this old fashioned childhood with "nothing exciting" to keep you busy was way too archaic?
And then there was the day I remember quite well. My husband and I had gone into town for supplies and our daughter (now 14 or 15) was to stay back, finish her homeschool work as well as have lunch ready for us when we returned. I remember coming home quite famished and was elated when I saw the meal. It was nice and hot chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy! We began to enjoy the hearty fare when I realized WAIT, we didn't HAVE any chicken in the freezer! Where in the world did this come from as our home is far from any store? And then she proceeded to tell us that she had butchered the chicken this morning. And yes, de-feathered and de-gutted it and all. Yes, she did indeed use an axe when no one was home to monitor her safety. I couldn't believe my ears!
This screen-free childhood could be treacherous!
So, if you would like to refrain from any mischievous adventures, experiences and actual “extreme” learning in your home, then I suggest you make sure your child owns an IPAD, has 24 hour access to a television and can be tapping on a cell phone any time in between it all. Clearly, you can see where such thinking with books as their best friends and the great outdoors can lead.
As a side note, I remember growing up in the suberbs with my two brothers. We would climb trees, build forts, make fruit stands from our avocados, rally the neighborhood children to play basketball and baseball games. It was a beautiful childhood and it breaks my heart that so many children are growing up with artificial memories in front of screens. What kind of memories will they have to look upon when they are adults?
I know this poem is a bit nerdy but I think it shares the concept of this subject that has been so dear to my heart. As I see more and more of this "modern childhood" experience, I feel the need to share about old fashioned childhoods - the ones that dreams are made of.
THE GIFT OF A CHILDHOOD III
Each parent gets to decide....
A "Little House on the Prairie" life running across the lawn...
or a screen-filled life, boredom, yawn?
Shall I inspired a "Green Gables" imagination fulls of capers, plans and dreams...
or give them one more thing to robotically watch and stream?
Will I encourage a "Caddie Woodlawn" childhood full of family and fresh air...
or teach them to touch a screen as if no one is there?
We can give our children the beauty of these beloved classics in a real life home.
We can give them a "Secret Garden" or "Swiss family Robinson" abode.
Do you remember wishing you could live that life when you were a child?
That storybook life?
We can give that gift to our children.
We can give our children more than the flashing screens that this culture offers.
We can give them laughter, jumping, running, building, climbing, making, crafting, playing, creating, pretending, resourcefulness... pinecones, feathers, tents, paints, leaves, trees, forts, art, dress up, and old fashioned play.
We can give them a true childhood
We can give them the gift of memories.
"Preserve your memories. Keep them well.
What you forget you can never retell."
~ Louisa May Alcott
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