As I listen to my kids' brainstorming ways to entertain their kids, it brought back memories of my childhood. If there's anything good to come out of this pandemic, it will be everyone finally put down their phones long enough to learn how to play again.
Unless it was snowing or raining we played outside and came in only when it was time to eat. Mom had a cowbell she rang to call me in, but I have to admit, the cell phone works much better. It's exciting to see the grandkids stay off the technology train long enough to learn how to play jacks, hopscotch and marbles. Who knew kick-the-can, red rover or tag could convince kids to forget electronics and enjoy the simpler games in life?
The 7-year-old grandsons have been rock hunting and, with permission to use their parents' hammer, have discovered "crystals" which they're sure are going to get them some cash. With each clash of the hammer they not only learn the life skill of not smashing fingers but the awesomeness of discovering the beauty inside of the rocks. They made a fort in a forest of entangled trees, have had snail races, caught frogs, played in the creek, and may have learned more in these past weeks than they ever would have sitting in a classroom. Sure this isn't ideal for long term, but it makes my heart happy they've had the opportunity to explore something other than Minecraft or Fortnite. Climbing trees is a bit more dangerous than pushing buttons, but it's definitely a memory maker.
The most dangerous toy I had were clackers, and it's probably a good thing they don't make them anymore, since they had been known to knock peoples' teeth out. Two huge glass balls, tied to the end of ropes would make some great "clacking" noise as they propelled through the air. Between riding bikes without helmets and chasing after the bug fogger that came through the neighborhood, it's a wonder we survived.
With the stay-at-home orders, families have turned to each other for fun, have learned to play outside again and I hope this part of the "new normal" stays intact. As the weeks have turned into months, I wonder what the new normal will look like, especially for the grandkids. There's no doubt the kids will adapt to whatever rules and regulations are put into place as the new school year begins, but sometimes I wish there weren't so many scary things for them to worry about when they leave their homes. From school shootings to now real-life cooties, they will be stronger individuals than I ever hoped to be.
The question that keeps rolling around my mind is would I rather them live in a world where wearing a mask isn't the new normal or never having found the time to discover the beauty of their imagination and the great outdoors? I can't control either one, so I'll just enjoy hearing about their adventures. This generation sure is going to have a story to tell about the days of the pandemic.
Sandy Turner is a mom, grandma, former caretaker and retired journalist living in Missouri who writes a weekly column about home, family relationships and keeping positive during challenging times.