When the big thrill in life for a youngster is to become competent on a video game, what kind of future are we creating for our future? Young people today lounge around and hang out, testoterone exuding boys sit around with their drooping un-musculed shoulders, save time for their laptop, and playing around.
In days gone by, children were an integral part of the help to the household, splitting wood for heat for the home, hunting dinner, help in the fields, gardening, helping raising their own brothers and sisters and baking and making butter and various items, for the day and the week. No wood, no heat, no meals cooked, no food to eat. Chores teach responsibility.
These chores prepared youth to take leadership, they layed a foundation for cleverness and persistance and self-actualization, and significant family time and energy. Not peer-dependant and they can actually think through the processes of a problem. Long gone are the days when the young worked side by side with their fathers in the field or their mothers in the home as an apprenticeship, for life.
Children should have businesses that are of their own craft and ability, it teaches dollar value, math and thrift, profit and loss. When I was growing up school buses would come through the city on schedule, after school was out for the summer, the corn fields in the area gave kids jobs, if you were older than twelve. This gave young people money, physical exercise and affirmation as contributing members of society. At the end of the day the school buses would deliver them back home, ungry and too tired to cavort around at 2 A.M..
These days our culture denies young people the very activities that build self-worth and incorporate them as valuable members of society. “We need something for our young people to do?” is a common cry of adults in most parts of the country. The society paralysis to anchor all of a childs energy into afterschool activities that cause imagination comstipation, keeping them from acquiring emotional, economic and spritual maturity.
Compare that to sitting all day plugged into the “screen.” Active imagination playtime is great and so is age appropriate work. Knowing what to fear is the first step in knowing what to fix. Cultivating habitat awareness-peeking under a hen for the first time and seeing eggs there, the potatoes they hoe from the ground, depending on something bigger than ourselves, disciplining yourself to respect and honor ecological limitations and patterns is wisdom. It is humbling, it is nurturing toward creation. It nourishes the soul and the body.
Every kid should eat a pound of dirt before they are twelve, ” my grandmother used to say. Splinters, blisters and real dirt under the fingernails are a normal part of being a child and builds your immune system. Our culture is also denying natural immunology by all the “sterilty” hype and is proving a crisis in child healthcare. It nourishes the immune system.