My Facebook friend Bill Hobbs posted a photo of the “child safety seat” he used as a child which made me laugh. The seat had two metal bars stretched around the seat from left to right. Those bars may have kept him from flying around in the car, but the metal wouldn’t have provided much protection had he been in a wreck.
But what made me laugh was the steering wheel attached to the top metal bar. It looked like a homemade version of the shopping carts I see in some stores that allow the children to “drive” the cart.
I could just envision Bill sitting in that seat doing his best to steer the car while his father drove them where ever they were headed.
The picture brought to my mind just how simply children can be entertained.
I was a teenager when the first Atari games came out. Our parents dutifully bought us a set and we played Space Invaders until we mastered it. I believe we graduated to Pacman, but soon after that, the game stopped being fun to me and I’ve never picked up video games since. Before that Atari came into our house, though, the most fun we could have was running through the woods along a path that had been carved out, leading to a fort, which was really just a big hole in the ground with dirt piled up around the sides.
We played many games of Cowboys and Indians in those woods, using tobacco sticks from my grandfather’s farm as rifles.
Today, those woods are gone, replaced with houses. Lots of houses. The children in that neighborhood won’t have the pleasure of chasing each other through the woods, racing to get to their fort before they are caught.
Sometimes, we find out that the biggest pleasure comes from unexpected places. I recall one Christmas when my children were toddlers, we traveled to Robersonville to visit my parents. We visited our Aunt Joyce. Her grandchildren – about the same age as my children – were there and while the adults visited, the children played – in the big box that earlier in the day had held a large Christmas gift.
The children were having all kinds of fun playing around in a cardboard box, of all things.
It struck us all that the gift that had been inside the box was sitting unused in another corner of the room.
Today we entertain ourselves – all too much, I think – with what’s on our phones or our computers. Technology has made it possible to broadcast what’s on our computer directly to our television.
So, instead of getting out and doing something simple, but pleasurable, we vegetate in front of a television until it’s time to go to bed. That’s too bad, I believe. Person County Extension Agent Jennifer Grable has an interesting column elsewhere in today’s edition that explains the damage we can do to our bodies with a sedentary lifestyle. Her advice was fairly simple: get moving. Do something physical. We don’t need to play Cowboys and Indians in the woods and we don’t need to crawl inside a large box to have fun, but we should follow her advice one way or another, or people will be reading about us in another part of the paper... if you get my drift.