Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When we were little

When the boys were small, filling up their days when school was not in session was a walk in the park.

You tossed some legos in their direction. You sat their happy butts down in a pile of dirt or a mound of sand or some other substance that they could drive a truck through or fill a bucket with or eat. They would happily get on their scooters and scoot up and down a one-block piece of sidewalk without noticing that they had been up and down that same block about seventeen thousand times. And you could literally take them for a walk in the park. Ease peezy lemon squeeezy.

Now. Not so much.

The good news is that camp is just around the corner. Five glorious weeks where they frolic in the sun of New Hampshire. No electronics. No TV. No i-pod touches. No computers. No Call of Duty. Bliss for them. Bliss for me. But now. Well, now I'm struggling to figure out what to do with them (make them do) that doesn't involved electronics or sitting on their asses (they have asses now - not butts).

Many of their friends are involved in the myriad of day camps (basketball, soccer, art, drama, whatever) so they aren't readily available for the play date thing. Then again, even if there are more of them over here - I couldn't exactly just boot them out of the house like my mom used to do when we were young. Well, I guess I could boot them out of the house, but then they would just sit on the sidewalk twiddling their thumbs in little gameboy motions, occasionally scratching their heads wondering what they hell they were supposed to be doing.

Tragically, in this day and age of parenting and child rearing our children are missing that particular aptitude of "occupying themselves" that we were darn pretty good at as ankle-biters. I don't think the thought of me being kidnapped or molested while out about in the wild wild world of small-town PA ever once crossed my mother's mind. Now, it's something parents think about. Even if we rationally know that our children have a higher probability of being killed in a vending machine accident - it's still there niggling us in the back of our minds. And, just as importantly - it niggles every other set of parents I know. No longer can kids head out the door to find the rest of your neighborhood buds just waiting for someone else to get booted out of the house for the afternoon too. And so, as parents we are forced to plan. To entertain. To pay for activities.

There are days when I have simply demanded that they shut off all things that require power. The last time I did this, I needed to specify that "power" also included batteries and solar power. As a moth is drawn to flame, my boys are drawn to electronics. Especially those that produce sports scores or allow them to kill things with simulated automated weapons. They did manage to occupy themselves with a minimum of gritching, but it's not the same. They aren't outside building forts out of stolen building materials only to have them infested by giant grasshoppers. They aren't stealing change from the bottom of my purse and then making their own way a couple of miles away to the local Dairy Queen. If they are building something, they are using pristine shipping boxes and rolls of brand new masking tape. If they are getting Dairy Queen its because I have driven them there.

Am I being nostalgic both for the unfettered life we led as kids - and perhaps even for the little babies that my boys used to be (and the simpler - but in it's own way exhausting - entertainment requirements)? Or is this just a complex sort of whining? Cause beyond bowling and putt putt - I'm stumped for what to do with two boys too big now to spend time in the park entertaining themselves in a pile of sand?

Sounds like whining to me. Someone call the Whaaaambulance.

1 comment:

2W3 said...

I remember walking to the "Little Store" which required one to trek through neighborhoods in which today would require the residents to be "registered" by the state. I do not remember any concerns from parents. As well, remember spending hours scrounging around in Devil's path? When you fell and got hurt, you were dragged (sometimes literally) to a neighbors doorstep. Said neighbor or respective parent never really seemed bother by this. I would recommend a great book called "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" by Bill Bryson. A nostalgic look at 1960s life through the eyes of a 10 year old.