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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Happened to the Simple Life?

I don't know about you, but I long for the simple life sometimes.  I still get a taste of it when I go home to visit my parents and brother, but I can't seem to instill the simpler life into our children.  It's weighing heavily on my heart and I'm not sure what to do about it.  I mean, how many kids do you see now without a cell phone, i-pod, or other electronic gadget in hand most hours of the day?  Not many...although I will say that our two at ages 8 and almost 11 do not have any of them and we don't believe they need them at this point because they're pretty much home with us most of the time (we home educate).  If they are not with us, they are only with friends or family we know and trust to take care of them and know we would be contacted if there was a problem.  Otherwise, it's like the "old days" when people didn't have cell phones and it was normal for people to go an entire day (gasp!) without chatting with everyone they knew unless it was for a real purpose - like to arrange a time to spend time together. 

About a year ago, my husband and I were walking through the mall with our oldest daughter (10 years old at the time).  We spotted three girls maybe 12 or 13 years old walking toward us.  All three of them were texting while walking.  They weren't interacting with each other, but just walking with dead-pan expressions on their faces while the fingers flew.  My heart dropped when I looked on this scene...all I could think about was our girls doing the same thing in a few years!   (If we have anything to say about it, they won't!)  My husband remarked, "you know what's sad, they are probably texting each other".  You know, he could have been right!  What has happened to the art of conversation?  We have replaced it with texting and e-mail.  We've replaced face-to-face conversation with modern technology.  That scene of those three girls still plays over and over in my mind (and of course, we see it all the time now).  Ugh, I don't want to see our girls substitute the emptiness of texting and e-mailing for the true art and joy of face-to-face or telephone conversations.  

My parents still have the corded phone on the wall in the kitchen.  Yes, they are "with the times" with their cordless phone, but they have adamantly refused to get cell phones and I for one don't blame them.  They live the life!  They have several acres on which they cultivate a large garden and a small orchard.  They have two horses, three dogs, and of course lots of wild critters who wander about in the yard now and then (until the dogs see them of course!)  When they travel, I don't know where they are or how they are...which can be nerve-wracking for me (the one who does carry a cell phone wherever I go), but they are determined to truly go on vacation.  That means leaving behind home, house, and all that goes with it for a period of time when they can relax and enjoy sights they wouldn't normally see otherwise. have that freedom.  Yes!  I gotta say, they are doing something right.  When we go visit, I feel at peace.  I feel like things are right with my small world.  There is something to their way of living! 

What happened to simpler times?  For example:
  • Girls playing with dolls and dollhouses
  • Crafting/sewing
  • Boys catching bugs and playing (harmless) pranks on their sisters
  • Girls dressing up and imagining they are the mom, bride, or princess
  • Hopscotch
  • Reading aloud to your children
  • Card games and board games
  • Music played on the radio or (dare I say it?) a record player (instead of in the ears)
  • Devotional time
  • Running through the sprinkler
  • Playing games in the car to test our brains
  • Going to church as a family on Sunday
  • Washing the car by hand
  • Jump rope
  • Taking a well-deserved nap in the afternoon because you've worked all morning
  • Gardening
  • Just sitting down and chatting with a friend 
  • Holding hands with your spouse
  • Hand-written thank you notes
I will say that we see some of the simple pleasures of life enjoyed by our girls.  They love catching lightning bugs, playing board games together as a family, making S'mores over the fire, camping, and washing the car.  But, we also have our share of computer time, television time, and time listening to music too.  Sometimes those things bother me.  They don't "sit right" with me.  I feel the family being torn apart by technology and electronics sometimes.  Yes, they're great for so many reasons, but they can also be the catalyst that brings families least that's my humble opinion.  Striking the balance is the tough part for me...

It's as if I feel the "real" things in life slipping away and being replaced by empty technology.  I'm scared to death that we will lose our grip on what has meaning in this world.  Yes, I know that the prince of darkness roams this world, but God is still in control.  I know that He has our best at heart!  I know that He wants the best for our girls.  I want our girls to be different than the world.  They are just as drawn to the world as I am at times...convenience, immediate gratification, etc.  But, if we can keep them young and innocent for just a little longer, what's the harm in that?  I am terrified of losing my girls' hearts to the world.  Lord, help me to not allow that to happen!

This post has rambled a bit, I heart is heavy today and I'm not sure how to express everything I'm feeling in a way that "nails" it.  Even writers have a difficult time expressing themselves at times. 

Does anyone else feel this way?  Are you struggling with how much technology to allow in your childrens' lives?  Do you feel this generation is losing its grip on the meaningful things in life?  I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

Well, must go get ready for my day.  We're meeting my parents today for lunch.  We do this sometimes - just drive halfway and meet in the middle to spend a few hours together.  I love these times and wish they could be more often.  I must be on time!  See, they don't have cell there is no way to reach them if I am running late.  Hey, there's a great way to stay accountable and be on time!  (smile)  I always pray for their safe travel there and back and today will be no different.  I trust in the Lord to take care of them. 

Thank you for bearing with me today!

All my best to you,


Marie @ Chocolate-Covered Chaos said...

Oh, Susan. I'm so glad you posted this today. I, too, am weighed down with these thoughts. My husband and I talk often about how times have changed the way kids work, have fun, and interact with others. We have many Amish families living in our surrounding towns, and I can't help but admire them. Their children work hard, and play simply. My oldest is 12, and he does not have a cell phone. We don't see the need for it. I get frustrated with the technology that we do have. They have Nintendo DS and Wii and are very restricted in the times they are allowed to play. Still...sometimes I want to throw it all out the window! I love your list of activities in simpler times. Those are some of my favorite ways to spend family time! I pray that your heart is lifted today. Your girls are blessed to have you for a Mama! Have a wonderful day!

Susan said...

Hi Marie,
Oh, you've encouraged my heart! Thank you. Your children are so blessed to have you as their Mama! :)

becca said...

amen! i work in ministry with teenagers, and we take them to our outreach camp each year, we take away their phones and electronics. it is so freeing for them. they become kids again! it is amazing that all of our technology really just weighs us down. i want to get a house phone and not use our cell phones while we are in the house, because my husband and i could spend our night on the phone with different people and texting, no even talking to each other. not good.

Rachel @ The Cupcake Sprinkles In Life said...

I completely agree...

All of this tech stuff can be great but I don't think it makes life any simpler.

My girls have limited tech time per day. We don't have cable, but I allow them to watch a favorite show online. (the Littles, iCarly)

They have DS games as well- but we reserve them for car rides- waiting rooms.

We read aloud as part of Sonlight- it's great!

And we just love the American Girl Dolls that live here with us :)

Susan said...

Thank you Becca and Rachel for your encouraging comments! I am thankful not to be alone in my sentiments on this topic. I just found out about a camp in our area that I'd like to send the girls to next summer. No electronics! Yippee! :)

Marie said...

Susan, I agree with your post. Somehow we were able to grow up without all these gadgets. I wish for a simpler time for my grandchildren.