Growing vegetables will connect you with cycles and rhythms of nature. I still remember cutting stalks of asparagus from my dad’s garden in early spring. And picking Japanese beetles off the raspberry bushes in mid summer.
Yardwork was part of my childhood. TV, not so much. I now know my dad was ahead of his time limiting our TV exposure. He called it the “idiot box”, warning us that it would rot our brains. At the time, I thought he was the meanest dad around, our TV was actually under lock and key in a cabinet below a bookshelf. We would negotiate with dad on Sunday evenings for what shows we could watch in the week ahead. The Sunday New York Times had the TV listings for the week. Our family was certainly not buying TV Guide. My dad is not alive to see the first reality TV star president, I often imagine what he would have to say about that.
Choosing what TV show to watch forced us to plan ahead and to prioritize. I remember asking to watch Laugh-In, a Met game or science fiction week on the 4:30 movie. Our TV time was valuable, something not to be wasted.
As a parent, I worked hard with my own kids to keep TV out of their lives Monday-Thursday. That was the best I could do with the first 2.
Then the internet came along. We kept the big bulky computer in a computer room that doubled as the laundry room. You could fold towels while waiting for the dial up connection on AOL to connect. There were no computers or TVs in bedrooms at the Rubin rodeo.
“Progress” continued to march forward. The screens multiplied and the schools got on board. It became impossible to keep screens away from kids once school assignments were online. My youngest even had an iPad assigned to her by the school. Cyber bullying behavior increased dramatically as access to the internet increased for our kids. If only they could play outside with their peers, face to face.
Steve Jobs kept his kids from the internet. Many Silicon Valley CEOs limit technology for their kids, preferring Waldorf schools which employ low tech approach to learning for their kids. Digital Detox is a thing now, many are now talking of the benefits and need to decrease screen time.
Less screens, more greens.
We need to get outside, back to the garden. Vegetable garden projects can offer up an elegant “technology” that incorporates science, math, social studies, art and history. STEAM curriculum is all there, outside. Screen free.
Nature disconnect is a dangerous trend. If kids don’t grow up with a connection to the natural world, they’ll be less likely to fight to save it. Our continued existence on the earth is at stake. Get your kids outside!