Mum's the Word

Relics and distractions

Posted: Jan. 25, 2018 12:01 am

I'm currently watching a video of a sloth in a onesie when it occurs to me, this is why my generation doesn't get things done.

I'd probably have 10 books written by now and my entire house organized and floors clean enough to eat off of if there weren't videos of goats fainting.

I'd at the very least have my Christmas lights down.

I want to be productive. I really do, but the temptation to watch another how-to video on something I will never actually cook is too much. Now my friend is sharing some video on cheese and I can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

Oh yes, laundry! How could I forget? And writing down my thoughts. I just wrote an awesome article in my head the other day and then forgot everything. I'm sure it was how to solve all the problems of the universe and now it's gone. Sorry world, you'll never know.

Parenting through these distractions can be difficult. I get mad at the kids for being on their devices and not accomplishing anything, but then I, too, want to watch the cat and the cucumber.

I limit their time and redirect as much as possible. We make art, play sports and generally try to keep busy. My oldest is learning to sew, which I think is great because it's a dying art.

Nowadays, kids just want to be You-Tubers. These videos will become the relics of the past someday, so unlike our former treasures.

These are things my grandparents and great-grandparents accomplished.

It's sad to think of all the real tangible things that would have never made it into the world had there been the distractions there are today. As well as needlepointing, cross-stitching and being organized to a tee, my grandmother kept a journal during every trip she ever took. I don't understand how. I can't even get my kids to write two sentences about their vacation without hearing about their human rights.

I was just asked in my child's class what my favorite book was from childhood, and before announcing, "A Wrinkle in Time," I had to sift through all the classics. All the classics that may not have been written and a great many stories that may have been lost had technology stepped in earlier.

I suppose we keep on generating movies, so someone out there is still with it. I'm not saying it's all bad and that videography isn't a form of art or that there's no imagination there. I'm saying the distractions that make you oblivious to everything else and pull you into a zombie state and annihilate all possibilities of doing anything else are bad. I am also saying it has never been harder than it is today to hide from those distractions.

Maybe it's a character flaw to be so easily distracted. Maybe if I was transported back in time I would be no more productive than I am today. However, I see what my children create when they are bored and I can't help but feel imagination is borne out of boredom and silence. Music is made, stories are written, paintings are painted and I'm the worst mother ever for cutting them off. My mind thinks of being transported back in time and what that looked like. I'm wondering if the cat and the cucumber videos kill the brain cells not yet formed inside their tiny brains to allow them that time travel.

Like the caffeine I allow myself but withhold from them for fear it will stunt their growth, it is the same with technology. Not that I'm old or done learning or growing, but I've kind of lived my life and that life had a start with me playing tag under the street lights and climbing to the top of trees.

I wonder if the bitten apple symbol of Macintosh is lost on anyone. Are we all taking a bite mindlessly? In our youth, maybe it's good to be limited. Keep the proverbial apples out of reach or cookie jar on top of the fridge if you will. The cookie jar, in this case, could be your charging station.

Relics of the past become lost and replaced with the distractions of the future.

Maybe I'm being overly critical here and just playing devil's advocate. Who's to say the You-Tube videos of today are any less valuable? They might be. I mean, they tell a story of today's culture, however sad it may be. I wonder if the aliens will roll their eyes at our slapstick simpleness. I suppose we can appreciate both medium.

Nothing will survive the apocalypse anyway.

Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.