I was playing with the boys in the living room one afternoon. The TV was tuned to one of the cartoon channels they require, even when they are paying no attention to it. A Thursday afternoon in August is a pretty good time for a sports fan to watch cartoons, so I put up no argument.
I wasn’t paying attention to the TV either, until a particular commercial caught my eye. It was a Public Service Announcement extolling the virtues of exploring the forest. At least I assumed it was a PSA, unless there are for-profit forests springing up around the country, which there probably are. I’m inclined to conclude it was a PSA, as the forest visuals looked pretty generic, there being no water slides or Disney logos carved into trees.
I like the forest as much as the next guy, so I was all on board with the sentiment. I was just about to think to myself: “What a pleasant tribute to America’s forests” when I heard the final line of the ad. The voice-over advised me to go to a particular website to find a forest near me.
My jaw dropped. Really? I need to go online to find the woods? Is this what America has come to?
Okay, it is true that I practically grew up in the woods, so all I had to do was go out the front door to find acres of trees. But honestly, people in other walks of life are having a hard time finding the woods without the aid of computers? The very idea makes me sad.
My son is five years old. When he walks out the door of his house, he sees other houses all around. Yet, I am confident he can take me to the woods in any direction I choose. Yes, he might need the aid of a car to get there, but he doesn’t need the Internet. He is the Internet of finding the woods, because he’s a child.
If you’re having trouble finding a forest near you, you don’t need a computer; you need a kid. Kids have a strange and magnificent instinct for recognizing trees. If you are unsure what that clump of three-story-tall plants is, just ask a kid. They’ll help you figure it out.
Or you could Google it. That’s probably more convenient, as it eliminates all that burdensome white noise of wonderment.
I don’t wish to leave the impression that children are good for only this one thing. They are not one-truffle pigs. In many respects, they are just as useful as computers. In case your search engine is giving you mixed results, here is a short list of things kids can help you locate.
- Mud puddles
- Dog poop
- Diamonds that are probably quartz but just might be shattered glass
- Bugs (dead or alive)
- The meaning of life
But there’s probably a web site to help you find each of these things, too. So, either way . . .
Living with my two (nearly three) year old niece, I’m always surprised by how much she sees of the world around us. She’s always the first to hear a peculiar sound or spot a strange looking animal in our garden. Of course, when she asks me what she’s hearing or seeing, I’m totally inept to answer, unless I’m in the vicinity of my computer of course;)
By the time she’s four, she’ll be completely computer literate and able to look all these things up for herself. She won’t have to bother you with questions anymore, but you may not get your computer back.
Your list is spot-on. My only addition might be toads.
Ah, yes, toads. Where would kids be without toads to discover?
Sometimes I wonder about myself when I check the weather on the Internet instead of just walking outside.
I’ve found that the Internet is great for learning what the weather was 6 hours ago.
Isn’t it amazing that children can teach us things about the world around us that we big kids take for granted? Seeing it through the eyes of a child is like seeing it again for the first time. This made me smile 🙂
My kids are always teaching me not to take things for granted. For example, not to take it for granted that they have enough toys.