Watching the 3-year-old granddaughter scroll through my iPhone like an adult, it took everything I had not to reprimand my daughter.
Although it's just a sign of the times, and technology is now the life of the party, I’m still resisting it. Sure I love my iPhone, but I don’t want my grandkids to miss out on all the fun I had as a kid using my imagination and not relying on a screen for entertainment.
We had a clothesline which ran the length of the backyard and, on non-laundry days, it became the neighborhood clubhouse. Made with old sheets and lots of clothespins, it was better than any fabric tent they sell nowadays.
During the summer months the only time we came inside was to have lunch and supper. I’m assuming our parents kept an eye on us, although they never seemed too worried about where we were just as long as we stayed outside. If there were creepy people out there, we didn’t know, and I don’t recall my parents ever telling me not to talk to strangers. In fact, if we weren’t polite to everyone we encountered, it was considered rude.
Unless it was snowing or raining, we were shooed outside and came in only when mom rang the cowbell, and you didn’t dare waste time getting there. You didn’t complain about what was on your plate while looking at your iPhone or tablet, and whatever you do, make eye contact when one of the parents asked a question. Wow, I really sound like an old-timer, and I suppose I am, but darn it, I’d like to have face-to-face conversations with my people.
Will these kids get off the technology train long enough to learn how to play jacks, hopscotch or marbles? After the sun went down, we’d get real crazy and play truth or dare, with the worst pranks consisting of ringing the neighbors’ doorbells, with the kid taking the dare being the one who lived there.
With our clothesline tents we had neighborhood carnivals during the summer, sleepovers at night and spent many hours pretending to be somewhere else other than in our own backyards. When we got tired of the tents we’d move to take shade under the giant weeping willows and catch walking sticks or granddaddy longlegs as we waited for the call from the Popsicle guy. Dressed in a white uniform with a little black bow tie, for 10 cents you could have your choice of something frozen on a stick. He knew us by name and when we fell a little short on coins he’d pass out the broken bomb pops he couldn’t sell. I’m not sure I’d want my grandkids buying anything from some of the folks I’ve seen driving these treat trucks nowadays. They definitely aren’t wearing uniforms anymore.
Whenever the grandkids are here we spend quality time outside getting as dirty as possible. We build forts, make dandelion necklaces and make toilet paper roll binoculars.
This is the stuff memories are made out of – they’re not going to remember how much screen time they had.
Sandy Turner is a GateHouse Media columnist.