I know, particularly right now, that we live in a virtual world, but not everything has to be virtual.
It is so much easier to send a text, comment, post, or snap to someone than it is to mail them a card, which is what I do 99% of the time, but lately I’ve been thinking we need a more personal connection to each other. As a kid, I always loved getting a piece of mail and even the idea of getting a package, woah! My kids rarely got birthday cards or anything in the mail before COVID, but that didn’t matter because we were seeing people and doing things, which is better than any card ever could be. Now that they don’t get to visit with friends and family like we once did, I’ve been looking for a more purposeful means of interaction for them. I reached out to friends and family through social media, and several are planning on sending cards to my kiddos on their birthdays, which makes me so happy! I love the community of people we live in, our friends, and our family so much. There are so many people in our lives that constantly make us feel special, even from a distance.
I remember when I was a kid (ages ago, prior to cell phones) we had pen pals! I thought that was the coolest thing. I think writing to someone is great for kids because of the obvious benefit of actually putting pen to paper instead of typing and it’s good way to express themselves. When you speak to someone, you often are saying things without even fully thinking about what you’re saying. That’s harder to do when writing, so you have more thoughtful and intentional things to write about than what you might chat about. I had a friend who spent her summers in Michigan, and at the time, it cost a small fortune to call and talk, so we sent letters back and forth all summer long. I looked forward to them so much! I would tell her all that happened since I had last written; the chickens had chicks, a cute boy talked to me at the pool, and how I did a photo shoot with the dog wearing sunglasses and I would be getting the film developed at CVS later that week. Ya know, important stuff.
People wonder why kids enjoy those YouTube videos of other kids just playing and doing random stuff, but it’s a form of interaction for them. The biggest problem I have with that is, it’s only one-sided interaction. Instead conducting their own experiments of flying an RC car off a building with wings they’ve designed, they are watching someone else do it.
KIDS NEED TO BE BORED. Yes, I said it. Boredom brings about ideas. Inevitably. Less tech and virtual connection forces purposeful connections and interaction that kids need that so badly. There are so many things that we throw at our kids to make them happy or keep them occupied that we forget, that’s not the goal. One day, they will be teenagers and adults who don’t know how to have a conversation, read someone who might be a threat to them, or be respectful. It’s hard to develop healthy respect for others when you can say anything you want behind a screen because the person on the other side cannot hear you.
I promise, I don’t make my kids play with rocks in the basement, we have a gaming console and we do watch television. We don’t, however, watch different shows in different rooms all over the house. We have one TV in our house and it’s not even upstairs on our main living level. We have a lot more board games than we do video games. We even eat dinner together at the table almost every night. I love that time with them. We play with them, which honestly is sometimes exhausting. You know what I hate and am basically incapable of? Pretend play. I hate being the horses voice or pretending I am driving the Barbie car. I do it, but man I suck at it. Is it always rainbows and sunshine? No. We fuss and get in trouble plenty, just like any other family.
It has rained so much lately and we’ve been inside far more than I like to be, which is making us all crabby. As much as we love our kids and, I think, they love us, I know some conversation with people who don’t live in this house with them would do some good. I am thinking that this year, I may print out all their happy birthday wishes and make collages for them.
Reach out to us if you have a kiddo that might like to receive a birthday card or something simple and fun in the mail, I would love to reciprocate!