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Friday, July 2, 2010

When the Lights Go Out...

How do you explain to a kid that they can’t watch their favorite movie because there’s no electricity? How do you tell them that they can’t go to their favorite kid site on the computer or play their favorite game on their Xbox or Nintendo or whatever is the popular video game system today? Back in my kid days, our parents just told us to go outside and play when we were bored. But for today’s kids, it’s much, much different. Today’s kids live, eat, breathe anything electronic. Is it our fault? We can say yes it is, but I think that’s debatable.

Are we not ourselves a product of our environments just as our children are? When we went to school as kids (and I’m not referring to you 20-somethings here, 40 and older), we didn’t spend our time excitedly telling our friends our highest scores on Modern Warfare II, we didn’t text our best friend who lived next door about the cute guy in English class, nor did we rush home to jump on the computer and Facebook or Twitter our new friend all the way over in Europe. Many of us parents are quite oblivious to what our children are actually doing to be social now-a-days.

In the 80’s, hanging out at the Mall was the hottest thing to do, and while it’s still a popular thing to do today for many kids, there are just as many sitting at home in front of the t.v., the video console or the computer. Try telling a kid today that, No, Junior, you can’t play on your Xbox today because daddy lost his job and we couldn’t pay the electricity…want to see a revolt like nothing history has to offer?

Now, a kid anywhere between the ages of possibly 8 and, oh hell, 8 and up, can grasp the concept here. They can pretty much understand that when there’s no electricity, that means no video games, no HBO, no computer…never mind that later on when it gets dark there’ll be no lights either…that’s not a concept they can actually grasp until darkness descends upon them. Ok, now try explaining it to a 3 and 4 year old.

We’ve become so accustomed to having electricity in the house, that not for one minute do we appreciate that it’s actually a luxury for many households today. Yes, I said a luxury. When our boys get up in the morning, usually they’ll have their breakfast while watching cartoons on our local PBS channel (because we cannot afford cable). Later on in the day, they get to watch one of their favorite movies that we keep on the instant play on Netflix (it’s cheaper than cable!) or we’ll pop in a DVD movie for them. After dinner, if their older brother isn’t playing his video games, all three boys will go in the bedroom and watch another movie or some cartoons (on instant play on Netflix, I think you get the idea here). These are actually our quiet times for mommy and daddy because these two little guys can run you ragged all day long if given the chance.

Well, recently we lost our electricity for a whole day. We’re talking from 5 o’clock in the afternoon until around 10:30 the next morning. Aside from mommy freaking out, now she had to try to explain why they couldn’t watch Clifford the Big Red Dog and that no, they couldn’t watch a moomie (movie) instead and please don’t keep opening the refrigerator and letting the cold out. It’s not easy trying to get a toddler to understand that everything was “broke” and they had to wait until the electric guy came to fix it…sometime tomorrow.

I ask, in this day and age, should our children have to experience this? Do you think that it’s a good thing for them to go without electricity for a bit to make them understand that all these electronic gadgets they so adore are a privilege; a luxury and not something to be taken for granted? I’m kind of torn on it. I do want my kids to realize that although it’s a joy and comfort to be able to flick on the t.v. whenever I’d like, or even turn on a lamp at night, in order to be able to do these things, we have to pay for it. And if the household income stops, the bills stop getting paid, therefore, one cannot flick on the t.v., or turn on any light. Has progress made us so dependent that we get the jitters when we know bill time is coming and we may not be able to pay that bill because so many are losing their jobs that a simple thing like electricity becomes a luxury that we may not be able to afford? It is already a very hard lesson for many kids to have to learn, I just wish it was something we didn’t have to teach them. And before you bash me for losing the electricity and yet paying for a movie service that seems oh so more important, the boys now only watch the DVD’s we have collected for them or that are given to them as gifts from family and friends because, no we cannot afford the $20 for a movie.

Much Luvz, Witchie!

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