My kids think I’m old.  No that I look old or act old, but when they start to put dates together, their eyes get big.  They think everything in he past happened in the 90's. I guess I’m ready to admit that I’m what you might call “Middle Aged”  With that, I have the vantage point of growing up with the influence of my parents’ generation.  These were depression kids and their sense of scarcity infiltrated all their behaviors and activities.  My Mom saved everything, from used Zip-Loc Bags to slivers of soap that she would smash together to make a brand-new bar of mishmash at the end.  My Father literally rationed our toilet paper and spoke about the toys he had when he was little.  He spoke once about receiving a button in a can that he played with.  You know, he’d shake the can to make a fun rattling noise. To make it more fun, his parents would change the color of the button.  Gosh, I hope he was kidding.  These guys used to gather around a radio for entertainment.  “In my day…..” well, you know how it goes.  

During my childhood, we had three channels on our TV.  The amount of Kid TV was severely limited to Saturday Morning Cartoons and 2 hours after school during the weekdays.  My parents shoved us outside.  Here in the Detroit Metro Area in the 70’s, we had a man lurking around the area that the news called “The Oakland County Killer”.  This guy drove around in a white van (Traditional Creeper Van) and was thought to be responsible for the killing of 4 or more kids in the county during the years 1976-77.  The guy was never caught. We still were forced out but they warned us to “be careful”.  I drew whenever I could.  My Mother would catch me drawing at the coffee table and she forced me out to play.  Many times I picked up whatever I was working on and brought it out to the patio table to finish it.  Hey, at least I was outside!

That was the way it went until we got cable the summer I turned 13.  It was like a whole new world for me.  I was glued to that thing, Although I still camped out and drew at the coffee table, I never left the side of my beloved HBO or MTV.  Although I wasn’t born with cable TV or computer technology, I took to it right away when it was introduced in my life.  This is why I can understand what kids are dealing with today that I didn’t have as a kid, nor did my parents ever imagine when they were young.

I’m grateful that I didn’t grow up in a time when everything I did in High School could have been posted on Facebook.  Really, I thank goodness for that!  I’m also glad that we had white boards on our dorm room doors in college so people had to get up and walk over to write each other notes.  No cell phones, no texting.  As I see all this technology filling our homes, I see a trend to be home more.  My kids are certainly home more than I was.  I see this as an opportunity for more family time, creating more traditions, more parental inclusion.  Honestly, with all the stuff that these kids can potentially see online or on TV, it’s more important than ever that we encourage our kids to unplug, play games, do projects together, and take fun adventure trips.  I try to keep this in mind with my kids, as I keep one foot between two generations.  I love to draw and make things with my kids.  We just finished some clay projects where we studied “Dia de los Muertos” and made sugar skulls in clay. My youngest likes to read books on Mythology (using Percy Jackson books for example) and then draw his own version of the gods.  I also like hand-made gifts for Grandmas.  Here are some links to some cool idea pages I found.  There’s certainly a lot out there:

Of course, is here to help you make special memories as well!

Maybe, just maybe, this technology stuff is a gift for us to use in a way to draw closer to our kids.  Of course, I just showed you some examples where technology can be used for good.  There are lots or resources out there where we can generate ideas for fun family time.  Also, since we’re so saturated with screens, I think their reduction is all the more welcomed when we can observe the silence, and fill that space with dialogue and laughter.  Personally, I’ve seen too much of the blank staring.  I’d like to see more hands moving and brains in action.

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