As I look out the window, I see two little girls smiling and happy. They are outside playing on the playscape, swinging away. Then they come in and start drawing self portraits, first of themselves, then of each other. Then they decide to draw me and their father. They are so creative. They are using their imagination and having so much fun. They are happy. Pure and simple.
I think I’m purposely raising Amish-like children, aside from the getting up at 5 a.m. and doing farm chores. My children really do not use the Internet or electronic games much. I think I was born too late. I’m really an old-fashioned mom, limiting the amount of television, forcing outside play, and creating projects rather than turning to electronic gadgets. Since I’m not much of a technical person (nor is my dear hubby), I haven’t taught my girls much about the computer, other than looking at a few games, the Disney site and PBS. They can pull up Hannah Montana and click the mouse to paint her nails. And aside from using Spelling City during the school year, and looking up facts for book reports, my oldest isn’t much of a computer person, either. I know I need to have them on the computer more, though. They will be using them soon for reports and studies… but for now, they are content with crayons, markers and stickers.
I recently met up with an old friend in Boston. We decided to meet at the New England Aquarium, me with my two girls and him with his son and nephew. All the kids are about the same age, and we had a wonderful time seeing the sharks and watching the penguins. Over snacks in the museum’s cafeteria, I once again felt like an Amish mom as I pulled out my girls’ L.L. Bean tote bag filled with crayons, colored pencils, sketch books, stencils, stickers, and a few travel games. Everything my girls love to do. At exactly the same time, the boys pulled out their iPads. They each had one, and started playing “Angry Birds.” In a matter of minutes, markers were dropped as the girls hovered over to the clever and challenging screen game, asking if they could play too. The boys taught them how to play, and before we knew it, they were slinging away.
The next day we met friends and their children for lunch at a nearby café and I pulled out their totes. Instantly all four children were coloring and sketching, playing tic-tac-toe and passing notes to each other. My oldest has recently been introduced to MASH, thanks to my younger sister, and taught the younger ones how to play. (Remember the elementary predicting-the-future game? Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House.) It was a great lunch and the girls had fun.
My oldest does have a Nintendo DS and my little one a Leapster Explorer, they are not completely sheltered. But I try and allow them to only use them on long car rides or waiting rooms. They will not be getting an iPad or iPod touch anytime soon. “Everyone has one mom,” my oldest said the other day, emphasizing the word EVERYONE. She wants one for her eighth birthday, which is coming up in four weeks. I’ve put that issue to rest for awhile, promising her a mommy-daughter day alone in NYC.
I’m sure my daughters are not the only ones sketching and coloring instead of playing with electronic gadgets. There are other children out there, right? It’s just so nice to see them playing outside or asking to play Candy Land. I think the real reason for not wanting to get my eight year old an iPad is that if she gets one, she may want to stop coloring, and if she stops coloring, she may stop exploring and using her creativity and imagination, and we will only see the top of her head as she plays her electronic games.
Times are different, I know. And I need to move with the times … and I will, of course. They are growing up, and I certainly don’t want my children becoming technologically-deficient. But really ... is it a matter of life or death that my eight-year-old doesn’t have an iPad to play Angry Birds? Can’t she just color some birds looking upset?