Disclaimer: I apologize for making you sing the Aladdin theme song over and over in your head after reading this title. Sorry!
As you all know, I’m a sucker for garage sales. I hadn’t been to one in a few weeks, and I was itching to go. The other day, my mom and grandma said they were going to some, and I jumped at the chance. I loaded the kids in the van and we went to find some treasures. At one of the sales, I was so excited to find a whole bag full of those bead-pattern activities, where you place the tiny little beads on the shape and then iron the back until it melts and sticks together. Seriously, when we were kids, my cousin Elyse and I would do these ALL the time. We even started our own little “shop”, where we would charge all of our family members to buy them from us! (Yes…it’s proof that I’ve always been an entrepreneur!) I knew that my boys had never seen these things, and I thought it would be fun to share an activity with them that their mommy did when she was little (and…I’ll admit…I was excited to make these things again!). What I didn’t see coming? When we finished putting our beads on our shapes, I went upstairs to the laundry room and got out the iron to finish up the project. I came back downstairs, and Sam (my oldest) looks at me and says, “what is that?”. Hilarious. I told him it was an iron, and that we use it for making clothes nice and smooth. “Oh yeah,” he says, “did you borrow that from Grandma? I’ve seen her use the iron, but I’ve never seen you use one! I didn’t know we had one!”. Well, it’s true. In his five years of life, he’s probably never seen me iron. My husband is a truck driver, and I only wear items that do not require ironing (I hate ironing, if you can’t tell), so I’ve probably ironed once or twice a year since he was born, if not less. And I’d like to keep it that way!
Anyhow, his funny comments had me thinking about how much things have changed since it was Elyse and I playing with the beads and counting our quarters and dollars that we earned. I remember the iron being a common item in our house: my mom ironed my dad’s clothes for work, and sometimes her own, and sometimes even mine. And I also remember my parents driving through the drive-up lane at the dry cleaners’, to pick up the more fancy clothes. Honestly, I’ve never taken anything to the dry cleaners’ in my life, and I can guarantee you that my children have no idea what that is. In addition to all of the technology and luxuries that are available today, I started to think about how much things have changed in such a short amount of time. So, I thought it might be an interesting discussion to compare those day-to-day things of our childhood to the extremely different world that our children are living in today. Here are some things I’ve thought of or experienced with my children and my family:
Payphones: My cousin recently came back from a trip to Disney World with her two daughters. As she was showing us the photos, we saw a picture of a payphone and she started laughing. She said her daughter (7 years old) was completely mesmerized by the payphone, which was apparently the first one she had ever seen! She laughed about it, went over to see it, and asked her mom to take a picture of her with it! Hilarious.
Phones with cords: When I tried to explain this to my son, he looked at me like I was insane. I told him that the phones used to be connected to the wall, and you could only walk a few feet from it. I still don’t think he believes me.
Writing notes: My husband recently had a conversation with our niece (15 years old) about writing notes in class. She informed us that no one writes notes; they text each other. And even more than that, have you noticed that they text each other when they are in the same room? Like, around the dinner table?
Cars without TVs: This is a big one. When we purchased our van last year, we were very excited to have a DVD player for the kids (it honestly saved our lives driving to Texas this Spring…seriously). But, at the same time, I promised myself that I would not have the DVDs on every time we got in the car. I want my kids to look out the window, to see the Fire Trucks or the squirrels or look for something orange or blue or green. They need that in their lives. And to be honest, after the newness wore off, they really didn’t mind having it turned off. Now, it’s more like a treat to have it on.
Maps: This one isn’t really about the kids, it’s me. I recently went on a little road trip with a friend, and we both had our GPS systems set for the destination, but still got off track (yes, insert female joke here). She pulled to the side of the road, reached in her bag, and pulled out a good-old, ginormous-when-it’s-unfolded map of the state. “Wow,” I said, “haven’t seen one of those in a while!”
VCRs: As a garage sale lover, I have not given up on my VCR yet. Especially with three little kids. Everyone is getting rid of their VHS tapes, and I am there to swoop them up! We have an embarrassingly-large collection of tapes in our basement, and the kids absolutely love going down there to pick out a movie (it’s like going to the movie store without leaving home…which, by the way, is another luxury everyone has now! what was life before Netflix?). The hard part? Waiting for the movies to rewind…seriously, it seems to take forever when two kids are crying!
Checkbooks: This is another one that I haven’t given up on. When it comes time to pay the monthly bills, I feel much more in control if I actually have the bill in my hand. I can see what I’m paying for, check if there are any mistakes, and then write the check. The act of writing it makes me conscious of how much we are spending on things, and this really does make a difference for us. It’s one of the reasons that we don’t have cable TV, and that we just recently purchased internet in our house (after living here for three years). Our kids may never use checks, and that is so strange to me!
And of course…life before Facebook, Twitter, Email, and (gasp!) Blogs! When you eliminate all of those things from our daily routines, think of how much more time we would have! Our kids will never know what life was like before social media, when people could only reach you three ways: in person, on the phone, or by snail mail. (which I still love, by the way…I will never give up on snail mail!)
We can all agree on one thing: our kids are growing up in a whole new world. There are great debates on whether all of this new technology is good for them or not. I guess I would consider myself “on the fence”. I definitely think that all of the intelligence, and luxury, that come along with these new technologies can greatly benefit our children and their futures. However, let’s not leave the past behind completely. Teach your kids how to write a check; they might just need it someday. Turn off the TVs and Ipads and Ipods and Ieverythings for a couple hours, and look each other in the face. Teach them how to find their way around your city without an automated (and annoying) voice telling them where to turn left. And, for heaven’s sake, please do a craft or two with them! And bust out the old iron when you do it! You will be so happy that you did…just look at the smile on my Sammie’s face!
What would you add to my list of things that have changed so drastically from our generation to our children’s? I’d love to hear what you think!