Friday, November 10, 2006


Kids These Days

I'm going to sound like a grousey old person for a moment.

My youngest son came to me the other day - bored. Ho hum. He wants something interesting to do. He's tired of being entertained with the computer, the TV, the video game consoles. This is a kid who's fascinated with all sorts of stuff - Japanese culture, Norse myths, Green Day, just to name a few, so it's rather odd to hear that he's bored. I told him he needs a hobby and started running through the things I used to do as a kid, back in the "good old days," when we didn't have so much electronic distraction. My electronic distractions were record & cassette players, radio & TV. I was a teenager when MTV came on the air. I listened to Duran Duran (Duran-squared for die-hard fans) and Ultravox incessently.

Even with this incessant listening, I had time to draw, read, learn embroidery (not very well--ripping up the instruction book didn't help), teach myself how to make a marionette, read, crochet, plot astrology charts, read, take part in afterschool theater, go bike riding, hang with friends, make and collect bookmarks, and read. I messed with making "old" paper using tea bags and coffee grounds in the upstairs shower. I even burned the edges to give the paper a more distressed look. Then I used a sheet to write a poem in my fanciest handwriting. (I still have blank sheets of this paper, plus the one with the poem, which is called "The Tree Stands Alone.")

It dawned on me as I was relaying the story about making paper to my son that maybe he doesn't have enough hands-on, physical hobbies. There's something very satisfying about interacting with items in a physical way. How many kids these days, through their constant interaction with electronica, are missing this? How many will figure out that this is a fabulous solution for that doppy-headed feeling electronica induces? It's about balance.

I imagine that adults used to say that "kids these days" phrase about me and my cohorts when we were kids, so I'm sure kids these days will figure things out in their own time. But, we adults needn't be lax, either. We should be doing our part to introduce our children to a variety of activities - whatever it is we think they might be missing. I, for one, will be showing my son that old paper. I've also discovered an old calligraphy pen and some ink that he might like to experiment with. Maybe he can make that leather-bound book he so desires to have and overcome that boredom.

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