Thursday, 12 September 2013
I sometimes wonder if anyone else has an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for the ways of life that were lived a few decades ago. Maybe it's ingrained in me after a childhood of weekends spend with my parents wandering around every National Trust property in a hundred mile radius of our home, a carefree childhood growing up in a hundred year old farmhouse where (to mine and my sisters dismay at the time, we didn't own a video player until I was almost a teenager), afternoons spent cycling around country lanes when people were a whole lot less concerned about safety gear and unsavoury characters who may be lurking around in the hedges waiting to pounce on innocent children.
Clearly not everything in days gone by was idyllic, far from it, but there was certainly much more of an an emphasis on the things that really matter- time spent with family, pottering about outdoors, a sense of community, making do and mending, growing what you eat and preparing from scratch good food to share. I feel so much more of an affinity to a more simple way of life than the modern markers of success such as monetary wealth, racing up the career ladder, a ten hour work day, a constant state of stress and an unrelenting pace and lack of free time. I know the world my children will grow up in is already vastly different to the world of my own childhood. When I tell them that there was no such thing as the Internet or mobile phones back then they will look at me aghast and unbelieving.
There is undoubtedly no escaping from the technology that infiltrates every minute aspect of our lives, but I do believe that children should be allowed to be children in the way they always have been for generations. To play, to create from their own imaginations, to be allowed a free rein under a watchful eye on the sidelines, to not have every second of their free time scheduled with extra curricular activities, to be exposed to skills and crafts that have been passed down through the generations instead of being glued to a screen, remote or games console in hand. So I suppose I am careful about what we bring and let into our home- the books we read together, the choice not to buy them toys or dress them in outfits emblazoned with tv kids characters- I'd rather they have a chance to express their own creativity than be a walking billboard for brands and marketing execs. The decision not to turn the television on for them but to encourage them to explore the outdoors or help me out in the kitchen. Making the time to sit down for family meals and talk about our days together.
I realise this all sounds very like 'The Waltons' or something (it's not, there's way more bickering). We're so far from perfect I can only laugh at the concept and and have our share of family ups and downs just the same as anyone else. Sometimes it's hard to try and explain to Lila that she can't watch Barbie Princess Charm School on You Tube when that's what a few of her friends from kindergarten are spending their time at home doing, but she soon forgets it and gets back to the business of making dens under the kitchen table or drawing. And yes, I know that at some point, (hopefully not for a long time yet!) they will no doubt be exposed to High School Musical and Justin Bieber or whoever his god awful equivalent may then be, but I hope by the time that happens that they will have enough of a sense of themselves and their interests that they will be able to decide if that's what actually floats their boat or not. One day I hope my girls will look back and appreciate their childhood in the same way I do mine.
Top image- scenes from our home.
Above- Lila at kindergarten, Rose and Curt ocean gazing.