Defining “interactive”

We had a couple of errands to run this morning, and since we had a hungry houseful coupled with a taste for adventure, we took the tribe to a local Big Yellow M for breakfast.  I generally prefer to cook breakfast for everyone on the weekends, but since the errands we had to run would necessarily involve long periods of good behavior for the tiny people, we thought it advisable to eat in a venue that features a really excellent play area.  Since this morning’s weather featured periods of near-torrential rainfall, our backyard was out of the question, and one of the Big Yellow M’s near us just underwent a major renovation, including an overhaul of its play area to incorporate play structures that play music when climbed upon by children.  I wrote about it once before.

After eating hearty breakfasts, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man proceeded to make merry in the musical playground.  Do watch the video, which will open in a new window.  I still want a set of these in our house, but that would require the building of a sizable addition.  Off to the side of the playground, there are two touchscreen terminals with what I assume are children’s video games.

I must assume this, because we do not allow our children to play video games of any kind. Some television and movies are permitted, as regular readers of this blog know, but we’re kind of tight on their screen time.  Too often, we see children their age glued to a little video screen, utterly oblivious to the actual people around them with whom they could play, talk, laugh, run, or sing.  It’s the reason we don’t have anything like a LeapPad in our house.  We recently scrubbed the hard drive on one of our computers so that our oldest can access videos that are directly related to some of her school subjects, but it has a keyboard lock.

Since we were in the play area, our kids were twice joined by pairs of little girls.  Both times, our daughters ran over the greet the newcomers.  Both times, they received a cold shoulder as the other girls, without responding to our girls’ greeting, walked straight to the touchscreens and started to play.  While Bugaboo and Beanie were somewhat taken aback, we were pretty happy to hear Bugaboo counsel her downcast sister, “It’s okay.  Making music with our feet is more fun than what they’re doing.”

There is an enormous world for our children to explore, and the infinite wonder of the reality of it is glorious.  Sure, they could play animated games with falling rocks or swooping birds, but I’d rather we went outside to see whether a rock will fall faster if rolled down a slide or dropped straight to the ground, or tried draw the scarlet cardinal or black-capped chickadee we saw and heard singing in the big oak out back.  Before they learn to use Facebook (or WordPress!), we want them to be able to carry on real conversations, using actual words, figurative language, and shadings of tone.

As my Granny, possibly the wisest person I have ever known, used to say, “God did not put us here to ignore each other.”  Before our kids ever lay hands on an electronic entertainment device, they will know that we love people and use things.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, help us teach Your blessings that it’s very hard to love their neighbors if they’re too busy to notice them, and even more difficult to give you proper thanks and praise for Your Creation if their faces are stuck to a LCD screen.  Help me set the right example for them, and remind me that as much as I love sharing the tales of my friendship with You through my blog and keeping in touch with friends old and new on Facebook, there remains no substitute for time genuinely spent with Your family and mine.


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