Reality Bites.

It’s a strange time to be alive.  It seems to me that there is more fake around than there are things that are real.   Like really real.  Can you even buy a watermelon with seeds in it anymore, kind of real.

Our kids, poor things, are really the test case for this society that we live in.  A world where the shots that look the realist in movies are computer generated, our food has been genetically modified so that even a shot of round-up won’t kill the crops, our money handlings are but a printout on a piece of paper and our idea of having a family game of baseball is with 5 wii remotes and moving the coffee table out of the way.

It makes me sad for my boys, a bit scared even.  There are just simply things that I don’t know how to teach them because I didn’t have them growing up. (watermelons had seeds, I tell them, and they scoff.  Our phone stayed at home, I relay, and they shake their heads in disbelief)

All of my classmates didn’t have cell phones when I was in grade 8 and we couldn’t access any information, pictures, videos, or tutorials that we wanted from wherever we wanted on hand-held devices.  It’s a scary thing, man.  Seriously.

My video games were not realistic first person shoot ’em ups where dodging cops or bludgeoning aliens was the goal.  Nope.  I was a three quarter pie shape thingie that ate flashing dots.  Or there was that other awesome one where I was just a line and I had to bounce a ball off of me.  I’m pretty sure my parents never ever questioned whether or not that was appropriate for me or what it might do for my aggression levels.  They weren’t worried about my being able to operate as a law-abiding citizen based on these games.  I’m quite certain of it.

My babies got 5 point harnessed into car seats, can’t bike without a helmet on their head, are not exposed to second hand smoke in the non-smoking section of the restaurant and can’t put a dang thing in their mouth without knowing exactly how many calories it is per serving.

Most of these are good things, I admit.  But it’s just so safe.  So, adventureless.  So, well, boring.

The talk came up in our home again about playing certain video games.  I think it comes up every single summer because it’s when they play the most and when they are the most bored.  During the school year we limit ‘screens’ to weekends and they wouldn’t have time for them anyways with sports and homework and youth group and whatever else we have going on during the week.  So it didn’t suprised me that it came up….again.

“Dad, will you talk to Mom about it?” Is always how the scenario begins.

“Yes, we’ll talk.”  Is always what we give them.  And we do.  Actually.

We talk about why they want to play these games and how I don’t understand because I’m a girl and how of course I don’t understand because I’m a girl!  And we discuss age appropriate based on OUR standards, not some rating on a box and we talk of holding our children to a higher bar than ‘all the other kids are’.  We talk of characteristics of each child and maturity and responsibility and just how trustworthy they have proven to be.  And then somehow, somewhere in the middle of this discussion I realize what’s going on.  I get why our kids might have the twisted desire to blow $*^% up.

They’re bored.

They live in North America.

They have been fakified.  Entertained to death.

There are no animals to be feared or military to make your heart skip a beat.  There isn’t the sound of gun fire or the look of poverty.  They don’t wonder when they will eat next or what will happen if the rain doesn’t stop.  Or doesn’t come.

Adventure is a walk downtown after 10 pm to see the same homeless people in their same spot but this time maybe yelling drunkenly instead of just sauntering around.  Or going zip-lining fully harnessed in without even the potential of coming out with a scratch.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see my children harmed or injured or fearful of anything.  But I think its fair to say that the reason they want to live adventure on screen is because they don’t get that heart pounding adrenaline rush anywhere else.

“So,”  I said in the midst of our discussion, “if he wants to shoot things lets take him to shoot things.  Give him a real gun and let him aim at something.  Let him feel the pounding of his heart in his chest that moment before he pulls the trigger.  Let him be a bit scared of what’s going to happen.  Let him feel the kick of it in his arm.  Let him see that this is something to be learned and respected and that it is not. a . joke.  Let him actually do it instead of just pretending all the time.  Our kids live their lives pretending all. the. time!”

Of course when I say let him shoot things I mean a target with instruction in an appropriate and legal place complete with all safety measures in check.

This just kind of came up out of me out of the blue and we haven’t mentioned anything to him because, well, that would be ridiculous at this point.  But over my day and a half of thinking, I feel like maybe, just maybe I’d be more okay with that then him watching fake people get blown to smithereens on some fake planet with a fake gun.

What do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Reality Bites.

  1. Remember when we were little and you guys came to visit and we went out in my dad’s grey boogie van, drive into the middle of a field, slid the side van door open and all shot at gophers? That’s the kind of thing your boys need to do!!!

    On another note – maybe a family trip to India would put some perspective in your kids lives! LOL Just saying… also – we don’t even KNOW what seedless watermelons are! One friend who was visiting claimed “GOOD LORD, I HAVE NEVER HAD TO SPIT OUT SO MANY SEEDS FROM ONE PIECE OF WATERMELON IN MY LIFE!” LOL

    So… you’re post was so accurate in so many ways.

    Love ya

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  2. I love reading your blogs Rhonda.You truly have a gift with words. Last year I went and heard a speaker named Dr. Michael Unger. He had so many fascinating things to say about why so many teenagers in North America turn to drugs, alcohol, violence, sex, etc and after extensive research done here in North American and then in other parts of the world, he’s learned that its because here, kids don’t take risks. Whether its because of “helicopter parenting” or because they just don’t have the opportunities that we had or kids in other parts of the world have (too much TV, video games). When kids take risks; climb the tree thats way too high… and maybe fall, ride their bike too fast down a deserted road… and maybe fall, jump on a trampoline without a net protecting them (*GASP*), they don’t learn their physical and emotional boundaries early on. It’s human nature to need to know these things about ourselves so if they don’t find them out young, they find them out when they’re older but in different methods, methods that they are exposed to (drugs, etc). It was very interesting and changed the way we parent. I let my 9 year old walk to her friends house 3 blocks away now, I encourage her to climb higher and swim where I can’t see her in the pool. She was worried the first couple of times but now she knows she can so many things and doesn’t worry about her own limitations because she’s comfortable with them. She was having anxiety issues before this but now they are almost gone. I say let your boys shoot that gun! My oldest did recently when we were up in 100 mile. Her eyes just sparkled… she felt so proud of herself. A year ago, she would have never believed she could do it.

    The other day, Chris and I were at the park with the girls and this little boy, about 3 years old wanting nothing more than to climb up on this park and see what he can do. However, his father, never more than 6″ behind him, stopped him every time he touched it or tried to climb up saying “you’re too little, you’re going to fall and hurt yourself”… so this little boy just walked around the (very safe) park and yearned to play with the other kids. I couldn’t help but think how much this father is taking away this little boys sense of adventure and the desire to test his abilities. If he falls, so what? He’ll learn very quickly that he can’t do something. But in the trying, he’ll learn about the 100 things that he CAN do.

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  3. Oh how we would love a family trip to see you and experience India! Keep praying. You just never know. We could win the lottery one day 😉

    I wasn’t allowed to go on the gopher shoot up ’cause I was too little. I have heard many a story though. I was, however, at the pond way in the back of grandpa’s field and I’m pretty sure some frogs were dismantled.

    Oh do I remember that van though. Kids piled in the back, no seat belts (or seats?!) and singing inappropriate country songs at the top of our lungs.

    Also, riding in the basket on your bike all the way to the store to buy stickers. Such great memories!

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  4. Thanks so much for this, Carla! I completely agree with what you’ve said here and I love the last bit especially.
    “If he falls, so what? He’ll learn very quickly that he can’t do something. But in the trying, he’ll learn about the 100 things that he CAN do.”
    I definitely have learned this along the way with my boys and while I’m not overly cautious, I’m still kinda-sorta-cautious. We like to live a bit on the edge with no netting around the trampoline! ha.
    But what I’ve noticed the most as the boys get older is that sometimes you just need to let them do their thing. Be it making pancakes, learning a new skateboard trick or trying to climb the tree – sure I could do it quicker, or make it so it would turn out better or offer advice or tell them to get down but then I’m controlling everything they do.
    The last thing I want to raise is adults who can’t make decisions or are afraid to do anything just a bit out of their comfort zone.
    So thanks for the reminder. Love it!

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  5. I love this discussing! with having three boys i do let them get out there and do things esp my almost 3 yr old as he thinks he is as big as his brothers! I also dont have a net on the tramp 😛 and he does climb up big things in the park! and i try to get him to come back down (as some times im too short to get him!) lol
    the worst part is the over caution parent that glares at me for letting my kids do what they do! like Im the bad parent for letting them go and explore! so this is good to know there are other parents out there letting kids be kids!

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  6. We didn’t have a net on our trampoline growing up, and I totally fell through the springs and off it SO many times!

    Definitely take the boys shooting! If Jen Harris can shoot a gun (and rumor has it around Eastern WA she can) then certainly you can teach your boys the thrill and especially, the seriousness of a gun and the damage a bullet can actually do. And maybe even once, they could go on a hunting trip. I know, that might be pushing it for Canadians 😉

    By the way, I’ve so greatly appreciated your blog and learn so much from the posts. I’d love to get together with y’all again soon!

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