This past week my kids and I spent a glorious stress free vacation in sunny North Carolina visiting my sister and her family. It was stress free, but it wasn’t by any means electronic free. I really tried to unplug us, but given the options (macbook, tv, iphone, itouch, ipad2, wii), it wasn’t easy. Both of my kids as well as my sister’s kids are growing up with electronics in their every day life. We have time restrictions, but it’s a struggle for me to enforce them, especially in the summer. In some ways it amazes me how advanced and adept in anything electronic they are. My sister’s kids are younger than mine, but at two and four years old, they are still both able to navigate their Daddy’s iphone with no problems whatsoever.
“Sebastian, how come I can’t get my phone to stop flipping the screen around when I turn it sideways?” In two seconds he comes over and taps the screen a few times and it’s fixed. “There you go, Mama.” He says with a twinge of annoyance. He's 13.
In some ways, I am saddened by the fact that they have so much time with electronic stuff and so little time with nature. When we were kids, my sister and I had each other to play with, our friends on the street, and the backyard. We were free to roam and explore. We would open up the backdoor on a summer’s day, and only come in when we were hungry. My sister especially was one with nature. She was constantly fostering animals and could build things with her bare hands from any materials that she found lying around in Dad’s garage. We were also pretty amazing tree climbers, and would hang out in the branches for hours. We were pretty content with this, and didn’t have much choice about it either. Our kids today have so many choices and distractions away from this lifestyle, that to call it sensory overload would be an understatement.
One day, while sitting on the back porch of my sister’s house, we noticed her dog Jada going crazy jumping up and down by this tree next to us. After many attempts to get her to stop, we realized that she was barking at a nest of 3 blue robin eggs. We called all four of the kids over to come and have a look, and from that minute on, we were hooked. Every morning we checked on the nest. We watched the eggs hatch into birds and watched the little birds grow every day. My sister and I saw both the female and the male bird feeding the babies. (We had no idea they both did this?) One night there was a huge storm and as Emma and I lay in our bed listening to it, she asked me about the baby birds. Were they going to be ok? I told her that the Mama bird was used to these storms and would sit on her babies and protect them until the storm was over. The next day (much to my relief), the baby birds were still there safe and sound. They had grown so much in just a day that they were almost bursting out of their nest.
On our last day I went out to check on the birds early in the morning and took a photo to send to Dave back in NY. I think it was so that I could also remember how amazing it was.
On our flight home I showed the picture to the kids (on my iphone) and they were both so happy. I found myself reveling in the fact that all of us were so connected to these little birds, and that our kids were fascinated with them. It made me feel more alive. Possibly this is how the kids felt, too? Emma kept saying how she just wanted to hold them and feel how fluffy they were.
I think maybe we will have to check out more hands on things this summer, and maybe she could even hold some baby chicks somewhere? You can’t really get that same feeling from an app on the ipad.