Use Your Imagination
“I’m bored. There’s nothing to do. This is the longest grounding ever!” The 8-year old wasn’t the only one who thought it was the longest week in history. I was right there with her. Children don’t realize that when they’re grounded, the parents are being punished, as well. There are no breaks as they go to a friend’s house, zone out in front of the television or having their brains turned into mush by video games. Good Luck, Charlie is replaced by the whines of a child serving a prison sentence for improper behavior.
“I don’t want to be grounded,” the whine continues.
“We don’t want you to lie. Neither of us got what we wanted it looks like,”
“But I’m bored.”
I stare, dumbfounded. “How on earth can you be bored? You have more toys in your room than Toys R Us. It’s a beautiful day outside. Take the million Monster High dolls and go outside and act out your frustration.”
“But I need someone to play with me.”
"You have Draculaura and Barbie to play with you and all of those friends that had to be bought.”
“They’re not reeeeal. I need you to play with me. Please.”
I blame progress. I also blame parents who rely too heavenly on progress. I’ve known too many who have allowed television and video games to act as baby sitters or distractions. They’ve had the offspring and now they are much too busy to take care of them. As I watched Disney’s Wall-E a couple of years ago, I saw a prophetic message. We allow technology to do everything for us and the world is growing glassy-eyed, fat, and lazy.
When I was young I would entertain myself for hours. No, not like that. I did it with action figures, acting out elaborate scenes of Shakespearean caliber. When my toys weren’t around I would use whatever was handy. When joining my dad on a construction site, I used nails or small sticks. I even created stickmen on paper that battled it out through a maze I drew, erasing and drawing as I went as the story progressed. Many of my stories came about as I listened to music and fantasized about some crazed drama. It’s still my favorite form of entertainment today.
Video games and television have their selling points. I won’t argue that. However, they can also be a crutch. It’s one that we’ve limited in our home.
The 8-year old likes to grab her iPod and play her games as soon as she is in the car. In the morning on the way to school it’s allowed. However, when I pick her up in the afternoon she has to tell me three things about her day before she’s allowed to touch it. As she lists each event, I’ll ask more defining questions about it and she will ramble on and on, happy to talk about her day. Before we know it, we’re back home and she isn’t thinking about her video games. It’s on to homework and then her friends start arriving and my quiet day has turned to bouts of giggles.
We’ve also had to control the hypnotic state that the electronic devices tend to ensnare their users in. Once eyes hit the screen they are glued into place. I despise talking to the top of someone’s head. When the 8-year old is being spoken to, she has to look into the eyes of the person who is talking and not at her video game or television show. She is also not allowed to sit in the middle of people talking and continue to be absorbed in her game. That’s poor manners, in my opinion, and there’s enough of that in this world as it is. Children today have a hard time interacting with others because they are not made to participate.
I know it sounds as if I’m against video games and even television. I assure you, I’m not. I have every version of Angry Birds on my smart phone and I am addicted to Castle, NCIS and The Big Bang Theory. Yet, these should be brief breaks in your day, not the consumption of it. They should be the springboard for a child’s imagination, not the final resting place. Young and old alike need to put the gadgets down and go outside to play. The furniture might last longer if we got our giant backsides off of it once in awhile.
And you just might learn something about those you’re closest to that isn’t on Facebook. Give it a try. The fresh air won’t kill you.
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