The Death of Imagination

Last night I made my kids play together.  Not watch a film or a game on the Wii together.  But actually play. They didn't know how.  They really didn't.  "What do we do Mom?" were their helpless cries.  

Face it folks.  We are raising a generation devoid of imagination and self entertainment (no not masturbation although I suppose that's on the whole list if one were to compile it). And school doesn't help.  Their use of technology grows all the time.

I asked my daughter, "Well, what do you play at school when you play house and stuff?" Her answer: "We pretend to invent stuff like spoons."

That's what she said.  Seriously.  These kids are emulating technology and creation instead of acting out human situations.  Why?  Cause they have fewer and fewer human situations as life goes on.  It's more and more virtual.

Today my daughter has Field Day.  It's not even the whole day.  It's 90 minutes.  I fondly remember Field Day as a hot, sweaty, forced death march of games.  Sunburn and hurt feelings were usually the result.  But at least it was the whole day.  

Why is today's Field Day only 90 minutes?  I have no idea.  I suspect it'll either be the excuse of it being too hot (get real.  My schools never even had air conditioning. Heat stroke and death was a part of growing up.) or that they have other fun stuff inside like watching a movie.  

Oh watching a movie in class.  Remember those days?  When you walked in and saw the tv on the cart and it was as if you had just won the lottery?  But certainly not every classroom was watching a film at the same time, because the school only had maybe half a dozen AV carts.  Remember AV?  I bet our kids won't even know that term.  They'll never get to make fun of the AV Club kids.  Gosh, what a waste.  

Now every room has not only a tv, but a large screen tv projection thingy.  They have cute names for it like Mr. P.  Our children are naming inanimate objects and talking of them fondly, but don't know the name of the kid around the corner on their street. Granted, neither do I but that's different.  I just hate people. 

Anywho, summer vacation is starting at the end of this week.  I have decided, though it may be the death of me, to limit my children to 3 hours per day of computers and television.  You may think that extravagant.  But when you consider just watching a few episodes of Johnny Test will take up most of that, I think it's fair.  Especially since my children are devoid of the tools to entertain themselves.  I will even force them to go outside each day. The horror!  What do we do outside Mom?  It's like stepping out of the bunker into nuclear winter for them.

God I hope I don't find them outside masturbating for lack of any other ideas.


  1. Children see, children do. And what do adults do to entertain themselves? TV, internet, computer games... Sadly!

  2. We're getting old. Wow, I haven't heard the term "AV" in years. I've been nervous about how the summer days are going to go, too. Luckily we have neighbor kids the exact same age as our kids, and they will play outside together for hours. I have no idea what they do out there, except that during the winter, my son made anatomically correct snowmen (to which my daughter came in, tattling, "They are making unappropriate snow men out there!")

    If the kids are inside, though, they just walk around in circles if the TV or Wii isn't on. Or they hover around me while I work on the computer. I'll keep my fingers crossed that they neighbors don't go away on a two-week vacation or something. Good luck with yours!

  3. I have a booklet of activities and now that they can at least keep their head above water w/o drowning we will be at the pool. It is so tempting to sit and veg in front of the TV but such a waste of summer, I agree.

  4. Aaaahhh, I fondly remember the days of bloody knees and scabs. Those were the good 'ole days.

  5. I grew up in a house without cable tv in the eighties. When I was a teenager, in the nineties - when I had friends over for sleepovers we had to rent a VCR from the video place - because we didn't own one. 1993 finally brought us a VCR.

    Of course, I also grew up in a rural area in MI, well outside of town... so, here's the thing: we had toys. We actually did have a computer (albeit this was pre-internet and it was a Commodore 64) and games (yes, there was Jeopardy or golf on the computer). But we never had a nintendo. It was the poor people's equivalent of being Amish.

    Anyway, we had toys. I had an extensive collection of cabbage patch kids (the only 13 grand kids Mom was ever gonna get) and about 30 Barbie dolls... in fact, the section of the basement allotted to my sister and I for play was referred to as "the Barbie Section." There was her side, and there was my side. We didn't really share, and quite frankly, playing Barbies just meant we sat in our separate areas of the Barbie Section at the same time while playing with our separate collections. Oh, and there was a table with the Legos; one side was hers the other was mine...

    Plus, we had a tupperware container of markers and a pile of paper in the linen closet.

    My point is that we didn't "play" with each other with "nothing." We had stuff - we had dolls, paper, art supplies, craft supplies, my sister was a girl scout (and when she was that) I was a Brownie, we did 4-H. My mom bought me origami paper...

    Otherwise we rode bikes, and when we went over to Grandma's (and there were 2 of them) we either cut up her old magazines or played with the toys that had been left there specifically for us.

    We also had a sandbox, which my father made a cover for so that it didn't become a litter box for feral cats... and I wasted copious amounts of time out there building roads and mountains for my matchbox cars (which, yes, I ruined in the sandbox)... When we were teens my sister was in love with Andre Agassi, so that meant I had to act like I wanted to play tennis - and we lived without biking distance to tennis courts.

    Plus, we had these antique things called board games... which mostly meant scrabble or candyland until my sister got Clue, but then she didn't want to share. So, I wasted copious amounts of time playing Memory - because that one was mine.

    I'm 31 — there were always toys. So, I mean, it's great to expect your kids to be creative and imaginative - but that stuff doesn't just spring up out of nothing... get them some bikes, or dolls, or legos, or paper and markers or a paint set.

    Cabbage patch kids are how I learned how to make a wig - Charissa couldn't be bald forever, damn it. And Barbies taught me how to sew pants - because it was really awkward to dress Ken (because I had the Ken w/ hair from Barbie & the Rockers and he came with shiny silver vinyl pants). When Mom isn't just gonna make you an outfit (hell, my mother would've, but I learned this lesson early - when she sewed Barbie clothes this somehow dragged on for like 3 weeks... until she forgot or didn't have any snaps or something)... Anyway, when to get what you want you have to make it yourself - that's when toys aren't just frivolous.

    Plus, my Mom made it clear that the only tv we were really allowed to watch was cartoons. There was many an argument over whether it was going to be Muppet babies or smurfs; or Punky Brewster or Double dare.

    Imagination takes impetus - whether that's toys or sports or bikes or dolls or crafts. So, to broaden their horizons, you have to sew some seeds in that void. Because otherwise all you have is tag or hide and seek... or wrestling.

  6. Hey! I was an AV kid in 5th grade... at my elementary school, classrooms got to use Commodore 64s on a rotating basis, and I got to set them up during homeroom. How an entire class shared one computer still baffles me. Anyway, the AV kids were considered cool, we got to get onto the computers all by ourselves!

    Loved reading this, thank you. :)

  7. I'm going to take a stab at being a stay at home mom for a while, starting in the SUMMER (i know, i could have timed this better).

    I need to come up with a super nanny schedule lest we fall down the electronics pit.

  8. Holy shit! I have tears streaming down my face. Hilarious! Love it.

  9. When my little gals were extremely little gals, I had to threaten my husband with bodily harm if he didn't promise to turn off the TV as soon as they came home from pre-school. And beyond.

    His plaintive cry? "but they want the tv, mon, dem cry fi de tv."

    So what? Turn it off, I'd say, and see what happens. If they cried for cotton candy for dinner, would you serve it? Get some backbone.

    What happens when you turn off the TV, or the computer, or say that it is "not working" is that they find something else to do.

    They whine for five minutes and then they wander off and get into whatever imaginative mischief they can come up with -- you just have to be prepared for that.

    Such as taking all of their Barbies into the bathroom and setting up a hair salon. Wherein, of course, all the barbies got a haircut in the bathtub. Mounds of synthetic hair littering the bathtub.

    Don't flinch. Smile. A mess, perhaps, but preferable to being stoned on The Disney Channel.

    Or perhaps they will draw on each others' faces with a black sharpie.

    Yes, yes they have....

    It's not even a trade off.

  10. Great post.

    I remember metal slides and wooden play structures.

    We dont have a tv in our house, but I am definitely guilty of plugging my daughter in to netflix when I need to get some work done.