How to Get A Life 2: Switching off the Electronics
Remember those good old days when you were a kid?
I grew up in Zimbabwe. The first time I saw a computer was when I was 12 and we had moved to South Africa. The only TV in the area belonged to a neighbour, and we watched it perhaps once every few months if there was something spectacular on. We did, however, tune in to the children's hour on radio once a day - at the end of the day.
What on earth did we do with our time?
We all had bikes and rode everywhere - even to friends houses miles away. We made secret tracks through fields of long grass, and navigated dry river beds. We rode to school every day, and back again. We rode to the ice-cream place for cheap, huge ice-creams on hot days.
We built forts in trees and grass. We climbed huge boulders (none of us would leave home without our pocket knife and roll of rope - girls included). We climbed trees. And fell out of them. We swam in flooded roadside ditches after thunderstorms. We hardly ever wore shoes.
We played cricket in the front yard - the whole family. We visited eccentric neighbours (mine was a lovely old colonial woman who had travelled the world, and had stories to tell and a house filled with treasures). We experimented with garden plants, and cooked up the edible ones on a campfire in the back yard. We built teepees and forts and carved soapstone (and gouged out everlasting scars in our hands). We went camping and learnt to track (and run from) wild African beasts (like rhinos...). We had picnics with other families at the dam. We hunted down interesting stones and plants and goodies found next to the road.
We read books and played with Lego on the days when you simply couldn't go out. We had dolls and cars and rollerskates. We found that "ice-skating" a polished wood-floor passage in our socks worked pretty well. We discovered static electricity with the help of the lounge carpet and a metal-framed door. We found static electricity glowed in the dark...!
We had dogs and friends and the freedom to roam. School holidays were spent outside, rain or shine - not inside exercising our fingers on a PS2...
These days, if the power goes off the kids are bored. The adults don't know what to do with themselves. The TV is a silent box, the computer just a blank screen. Nothing electronic works. Heaven forbid we'd have to use our imaginations to amuse ourselves!
But here's a thought. Get a life. Make as if you're living in the Dark Ages and switch off everything that runs on electricity/batteries to entertain you.
Get outdoors, get dirty, get a scraped knee and a few stiff muscles. Be a kid again - and show your kids what childhood should look like. Get to know your neighbours and stay out watching stars after dark.
You may never want to switch that electronic stuff on ever again. Except, perhaps, to read this.