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I’m not a cry-er.
I chalk it up to using a lot of my Lifetime Tear Quota when my mom died the spring of ’72 and my beloved grandmother the summer after. Nothing hurts more than losing the ones you love most. Scraping my little girl’s heart something fierce, both left me with a decades-long oozing wound. Recovery comes slowly, and even if they fade to silver, scars remain. Though no one else can see them, you know they’re there.
While I used to find not crying as some indicator of strength or emotional stability, I don’t so much these days. Sometimes I even find myself envying those for whom tears fall easily.
With age, my tears have gotten conspicuously louder and I’m more attuned to the sorts of things that manage to siphon these tiny, magical waters from my eyes.
Tears speak volumes if we’re listening.
Hallmark commercials are notorious for yanking heartstrings but it was a surprise when a granola bar commercial made me cry. Watch —
Nature Valley asked the same question of three generations, “What did you like to do for fun as a kid?”
It was all well and good when the over-40 set answered the question – blueberry picking, gardening, sledding, fishing, baseball, fort building, going door-to-door to find friends – and then it panned to a series of today’s kids…
It wasn’t just their answers that bothered me; it was their enthusiasm, the way their faces illuminated when they spoke.
Watching videos, gaming, texting — each child was passionate in answering. The admitted to spending hours…days…committed to their “play.”
It made me sad-sick.
I thought about my own childhood, what I did for fun–
Visits with my cousins in small-town, Georgia, where we’d play Kick the Can with neighbors until the moon was high in the sky, dirt bike rides without helmets where you may not have gotten burned but you could feel the heat of the motor, playing Mumblety Peg and shooting firecrackers and swimming in the Blue Hole–knives and matches for heaven’s sake. Amazingly, we never were injured.
Playing board games, building card houses and dining room forts, dress-up and make-believe, lemonade stands, water balloon fights, riding bikes and walking to 5 Points to buy a chocolate cone at Hodgson’s Drugs….
Reading behind the wing chair in our living room, sitting wrapped in a blanket by the heater vent, bowl of chocolate ice cream in one hand and Nancy Drew in the other.
Or that time it snowed then iced then snowed again, and no one had power for days, and we became prowling wolves, somehow still finding our people.
Boredom was a gift, a birthplace for imagination.
What a disservice to our children, that they never have to be bored.
And it’s not that I’m judging kids for their choices; it’s a by-product of our culture. Following a path of least resistance is human nature. Even as a mama, when I was desperate for a break, I’d pop in a Barney video to babysit.
It concerns me for our collective future, mine and yours and ours, that we medicate on technology, how we suckle the internet like a babe to mother’s milk. We’re tempted to point at the addictions because we’re blind or maybe just numb to our own.
We settle for imaginary friends on Facebook. We crumble under the weight of comparison wielded by social sharing. We’re more connected than ever before, and paradoxically more isolated. It’s crazy.
My children are older now so I can’t fully control their influences or their choices about what to do for fun. What I can do is listen to my tears and pay attention to what moves me.
The truth is, I’ve been sitting here for too long trying to tidy my words and end with a neatly tied bow. I’m an optimist and idealist. I see bright sides and silver linings. I’m fighting the feeling of becoming a cliche, one who sees days gone by as halcyon; better, maybe, than they ever really were.
Sometimes having more questions than answers is the most honest place to land.
I truly believe that some days in the past were better. Some things in the past were better. I believe that I am here to help preserve some of the things that are good to keep alive from the past. Like true friendships and live connections… knowing your real neighbors and making friends down the road… saying hello and writing real letters… not on the computer… writing in real book journals and taking pictures on film put in scrapbooks with notes about the people and places and things… and sharing the best times and recipes… truth is truth for all time and some things are not better… some things ought to be lived and not just googled or played on Itunes… and I still like to see the lightning bugs (or fireflies depending on where you grew up) when they come out at night and I still love the things I did as a child and I still love to read out loud… some things are just better that way. Yes, some of the new is good… but that does not mean the old is bad or something to leave behind… in the Word it says to look for the old ways and the old paths so there must be value in it. We are too quick to throw away the old and that has created a culture of haste and waste… I have two sons in their early 20’s and hope they will not lose their love of all things old as they combine it with the new. Old is tried and true and doesn’t need batteries or electricity or wifi… sometimes it is still the best… and I shed many tears at times when I see what we have lost…
AMEN! I totally agree with that!
Bonnie Jean, Yes ma’am, I love the ways of old, and I’m thankful for conveniences today that complement our lives. I don’t want to remain anchored to the past, but to celebrate how it led to “today.”
Lightning bugs are magical, and I STILL love to catch them! xo
The old days were good! Technology can be useful, but spending 3-5 hours a day on computers and stating that you’d be lost without your tablet–that is wrong! If I were a mom today my children would not have all the latest technology. No tablet, etc. They could share the family computer and use it sparingly. They would read books, go outside (heaven forbid) and play. Make friends with children in the neighborhood.
They probably don’t know what fireflies are or the fun of listening to crickets & frogs. Can’t make something, just Google it and there is the answer. Not for my children!! Mine would go to library and research the old fashioned way!
Not much social media is done at my house! I don’t compare myself to others. Just live my life the best I can!
Oh, I’m careful to say what I’d never do, lol, from having done some things as a parent I thought I wouldn’t :). However, there are so many things modern technology CANNOT replace, much of what you’ve shared here, Beth (and BJ).
I agree, but I don’t miss the outhouse at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Just sayin’
Ha! I remember a literal pot to pee in at my grandfather’s…. #DON’TMISS!
This post brings back so many memories for me of growing up in the country, having lots and lots of freedom, spending countless hours on my back watching the clouds, NOT having a schedule. Our kids are missing out. How can we bring that back? Or at least some of it.
Doing it with our (one day) grands?? I did those things with my children when they were young….but will they remember? This is such a different world we find ourselves in, and in so many regards it’s not as safe as it once was.
BUT…there ARE ways, right? I guess it’s more of a challenge….