Nov 2, 2009

Simple Magic

My children are naive, sheltered simpletons who spook easily and believe lavishly. Video games perplex them, videos overwhelm them. Isn't that awesome?

So many children these days become numbed early on by the overwhelming onslaught of media. TV shows with rapid-fire images. Pictures and movies with over-the-top special effects. Superheroes who do much more than leap over tall buildings in a single bound. It's exciting, it turns them on and cranks them up and makes them want more more more.

What I also observe is that it dulls them to the everyday wonders of our natural world. It's not enough to wear a Mom-made bat costume - it's gotta be a store-bought replica of a comic strip hero. A pure folky song is boring compared to a cranked-up Hannah Montana driving-drum-beat pop hit. That bow&arrow that the kids made from an old rusty plow under the barn doesn't shoot as far as the SuperStore plastic model.

There was a Youtube video making the rounds recently of a 5-year-old redheaded boy dancing to some modern song, slapping his behind and doing all the dance moves just like the real video. People thought it hilarious and cute; I thought it sad. I just wanted to see what his own moves might be, not what he'd learned from too much MTV-watching.

Our boys dance like geeks. Not like any professional performer on TV. But it's their dance.

So here in our simple country life, and sacred Waldorf community, we are sheltering our kids from as much of the mainstream world as possible. True, they are missing the childhood experience of most of the peers they will room with in college, and already have learned to pretend to know what other kids are talking about when venturing out into the greater community. They are not "normal" and may sometime lament or resent us for it.

But look at what they're not missing! The surprise of a purple flower beside the road in November made Galen skid to a stop on the way to school this morning. The gifts of a piece of wood, a rock, a homemade bun and some "spider web" yarn from various fairy-tale actors at the school's Pumpkin Path enchanted both boys and erased any desire for a pillow-case full of trick-or-treat mini Snickers bars (their desire, at least...)

Our boys delight in simple, natural, home-spun pleasures. Their time for i-pods and facebook and Hollywood will come. But not yet. Not yet to let others program their imaginations for them. Not yet to have their playtime sound like a TV rerun. Not yet to let clever advertising executives into their trusting heads. I'm going to preserve their innocence for as long as we can - it's the only childhood they'll have.

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