The house I grew up in has an immaculate front porch. The floor is black and white smooth concrete tiles that used to function as a very large checkerboard while we were growing up. We would save tuna cans, remove the labels and paint them black and white to use as “checkers.” The porch was also a very good stage, a practice pad for jumping rope and a viewing room for spectacular Midwest thunderstorms. It was also fun to clean. Yes. Clean. My best friends and I would take off all the furniture, plug the drainage holes with rags and the stairways with benches and spray down the porch with soap and water. It turned into a poor man’s “slip-n-slide,” if you will. And it provided endless hours of entertainment during hot Nebraska summers.

 

This makes me think a lot about children today and what I feel is a lack of outdoor play time and creativity. Okay, okay…that’s bold (and I don’t have kids, so what do I know), but I was reading an article a few months ago about the effects of the recession on families. The article was talking with parents about what they had to cut out of their budgets, which included video games and DVDs for their kids. (Note: They were interviewing middle-to-upper class nuclear families.) And I didn’t feel sad for them. In fact, couldn’t help but think…good! Send them outside. Give them sticks and cardboard boxes and encourage them to create magical worlds or give them sheets and blankets to make forts!

 

It is harsh to say that this recession is a good thing…because it isn’t and I am thankful and grateful every day that I have a job. But there is part of me that thinks this current economic climate has a silver lining. We live in a world that is more and more isolating and perhaps this will encourage kids, families, everyone to rediscover board games, books, the great outdoors, good conversation and simply – the company of others.

 

 

 

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3 responses »

  1. Kirsey says:

    OH MY GOD!!! I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. I was a nanny during the summers when I was in college and the snotty little spoiled brats had EVERY toy imaginable, a swimming pool, lived on a lake and were still BORED! It made me crazy. I taught them to build forts out of furniture and have grass fights, things they would never have thought of prior yet we weren’t using one toy and our afternoons were FULL. It was amazing. You could not be more right in saying there is some silver lining to this recession and it had to come at some point because kids just weren’t hearing the words “NO, mommy isn’t buying you anything else, ” and there is nothing wrong with saying that.

  2. ebats says:

    Wow. I’ve only ever had the 13-yr-old 3$/hr babysitting gigs for kids too young to plug themselves into a video game–not the full-on nanny stuff you’re talking about, kirsey– but this post makes me think about my grandma’s house when I was a kid.

    It was freakin paradise. She lived in an orchard, so we spent a ridiculous amount of time climbing trees and building tree houses and sniping each other with rotten fruit. She also had a pool, which was awesome, but we were always inventing games to play in there, too–the most elaborate versions of Marco Polo ever played, with so many rules we had to keep a notebook.

    We used to pretend we were working in an office in her basement, which basically consisted of us inventing lives for ourselves in “interviews” and updating our “files” to change our last names based on which celebrity we were married to that week. And we used to send notes through the laundry chutes and called it the fax machine.

    *Sigh.* Oh, grandma’s house. She was a depression-era kid, so maybe some of that no-money innovation rubbed off on all of us. I have to agree that the recession really doesn’t seem like a wholly bad thing (I say this now, while I still have a job, but in about 5 months when my fellowship runs out, it may be another story…).

    I just don’t have ANY memories of playing video games as a kid, and I know we did. But I have lots of memories of getting beaned with a mushy apple or of practically passing out from holding my breath in the pool or of changing my name to Kim when I was married to Jason Priestley from 90210 the office in the basement. (Somehow, it just seemed appropriate to change both my first and last names with that one, don’t ask me why).

  3. stephoh says:

    LeDeb, I love it. I totally agree. I actually wish the gas prices were still sky high as well b/c carpooling, public transportation, and {gasp}bicycles were all making a come back.

    Not to overly romanticize the situation, but I think the only way our society is going to change is with a drastic shake-up. People are not going to stop spending lavish amounts of money until they have no money. We’re a country that loves credit. Hold on to those I.O.U.s, there as good as money, right?

    As for games as I kid, I loved to go out to our swamp with a bucket and see how many frogs I could collect in an hour, then dump them out, and try to beat my score. This is, of course, after I was banned from my nintendo. But I remember the frogs better than all the times I passed Super Mario Bros 3.

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