By all definitions, I would almost certainly be classified as a screen addict. I’m on a computer all day at work and even have some downtime where I can do personal things, and my iPhone has made it easier than ever to “just check in” on Facebook and elsewhere online. I like having YouTube up and running when I cook, I listen to podcasts when I drive, I fit gaming apps into the empty spaces of my day. As I write this, it’s a bit depressing to think of how little quiet time is in my life.
Visiting family or having family visit me is a nice break to all of this. Arguably I drank too much coffee during my recent trip to my grandpa’s farm, but sitting around the table and sharing stories with family was a fantastic way to pass a weekend. Certainly there were tasks that could have been accomplished outside: the grove was probably full of dead limbs that could have been cut and burned, there were already some leaves to be raked in the yard by the house, and other general upkeep chores that are associated with owning a home would have presented themselves if even a moment was given to consider them. But that wasn’t the point of our visit.
Not that we spent every waking moment indoors. With my back being what it is, I was not up to doing much, but I was able to enjoy the outdoors a bit. My kids, however, spent a great deal of time outside with my cousin’s two children. Melody didn’t get in on it so much, but Lukas and the other two built a house out of some firewood. It may not be the easiest to see in this picture, but the branches used to make the roof were basically woven into place; the roof was sturdy, much more durable than I would have given three children aged 7 and younger credit for making. I don’t think it was Lukas’ idea to build the house, but he had fun helping.
Lukas has been enamored with Thomas the Train for well over a year, and any morning that I am home he asks (or begs) to watch his “train videos” on YouTube. Admittedly, he gets more screen time than he should, and it probably fuels his interests in trains to a point that is perhaps excessive, but he goes on to build elaborate track setups and tells stories with the engines for hours on end; barely a day goes by in which he doesn’t play with his trains. We could do his imagination a great disservice by letting him spend too much time watching movies; for now, his imagination is working (almost on overdrive!).
Melody is developing her own interests, but she is still heavily influenced by what Lukas decides to do. She’ll watch “train videos” with Lukas all day if given the go-ahead, and she plays with the trains almost as much as he does, but she’s also starting to play a little with dollhouses.
Speaking to myself at least as much as the rest of you, I want to remind you to let your children play. The laughter, the imagination, the fun, it’s all working for you as a parent. Even better, play with your kids. They want you to spend time with them, and you probably need it just as much as they do.