The fingers were used to show this little, undeveloped mind of mine how to count. I remember, “One, two, three…” as someone would point to the fingers on my hand. Over time, I could count to one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred! You can probably remember how excited you were being able to show the grown-ups how you had learned to count higher and higher.
The joy of childhood innocence. We all have those times of our past years, and in my case, many from being a kid, etched into our memories. I had so many good times in a world that was free from the Internet and the hand-held device–all of the anxieties from the instant gratifications we have grown accustomed to in this techy, at your fingertips generation. Kids rarely have any interaction with good ole dirt and sweat, or old-fashioned imagination and creativity. It almost seems as though the world has forgotten about all of that: those things from the past. Now, kids seem to be pecking away at glass screens or pressing plastic keys, with fingers bearing no dirt under the fingernails.
Whether a kid has an experience with a wooden sword, matchbox cars in the dirt or dolls to have tea with, or whether they are six-year-old Black Ops masters or celebrities on Snapchat, they are growing. They are absorbing, developing, listening and so on. They will someday grow up to be adults, and someday they will be counting up the things that are important to them.
I was told to “go play” many times by my mother as I was growing up. I was an only child, and being in a single-parent home for the majority of my life made for a lot of time to create my own entertainment. I didn’t have a lot of friends in the areas I grew up in, and we moved around a lot. At school, I had friends, but the time with them was limited. My mother didn’t make a lot of money, so it was not like I had a lot of material things to play with. So, I spent a lot of my time creating things from the little I did have and from the things I would find around our neighborhoods. I was blessed to have pretty cool grandparents (my mother’s parents) that had generations of cool things from fifty-plus years of raising several children of their own. I’m always thankful for growing up semi-old school, for it taught me a lot about the real necessities of life, or at least what I consider real necessities.
The experience of building something from nothing, being humbled by having less, living in a world that didn’t advance nearly as quickly as it is today, having the chance to get calluses on my hands from working with them–instead of sitting in front of a screen that displays an animated replica of something that is made out to be lifelike–has really shaped the way I see the world. It’s a shame that most kids, as well as generations to come, will not know what being a kid was like for many people my age and older than me. It definitely has conditioned me in many different ways that differ from the little kid who now sits for hours, staring at a backlit screen.
Now, kids count the number of kills on a game. They count the number of points they can rack up against another. They compare themselves to all of the other kids as they see the many faces on social media: their accomplishments, their constant, unfinished race to be “prettier than” and their constant need to be validated. They count themselves as less-than, or more-than. It is so much more evident within the world that is displayed, everywhere, on a screen.
Where did our simplistic innocence go? Why do we seem to have such a competitive heart, instead of a humbled, giving one? Is it, in part, the society in which we live that is to blame? Our poor kids are being conditioned by the terrible hand of junk instead of things that really matter, and then we wonder why we cannot find more kids who want to work towards building a more fruitful, giving and loving society.