Of all the signs of the times and indicators of why we’re all going to hell in a hand basket, I think I’ve boiled it down to some simple representations of “what’s wrong with kids these days.”
If you’ll allow me to put on my granny hat for 700 words or so, I’ll tell you how my Sunday School class helped me discover this truth. I know it is the domain of crotchety old church ladies to pontificate on why the current generation is going to cause the apocalypse, but sometimes I happen to agree with those guardians of traditional values.
Hubby and I have been teaching 5th grade boys in Sunday school for six years, and despite the craziness of this age group (never mind the smell), I’ve come to enjoy hanging out with those guys. They are on the edge of being preteens, but they really are still just kids. They are rowdy, they seem to have little control over their bodies and voices, they are very honest. Though they may be difficult to corral, it is very clear what their intentions are and what interests them.
I always plan my lessons to include some activities that allow them to move around between Bible lessons and games. The physical games usually tie in to our lesson, but occasionally we do something just for fun after our lesson. This brings me to the first indication of what kids these days are missing.
One Sunday, I incorporated paper airplane making into a lesson. *puts Granny hat on* Back in my day, making a quality paper airplane was a required skill for both boys and girls. Our school even held an annual paper airplane contest in the high school gym. The winner was big man on campus for at least a month after the contest.
I asked my 5th grade boys to make their best paper airplanes. Ya’ll, our origami forefathers must have turned over in their graves. These things were TERRIBLE! None them flew. Hubby and I were aghast at their total ignorance of the perfect diagonal fold that would launch a simple piece of paper all the way across a basketball court.
After grieving the doomed fate of the human race for the week, the next Sunday, Hubby used part of our class time to teach these kids how to make a proper paper airplane. They were interested AND excited to learn how. This tells me that the interest is still there, if not the opportunity.
The other indicator of our hell-in-a-handbasket fate just happened this week. Our church promoted kids to the next class, so I have a whole new group of boys, some of whom have not met each other. Hubby told them to introduce themselves and shake hands. Over half of the class executed the dead fish handshake while looking at their own shoelaces.
To double check the lack of handshake skills, I offered my own hand to each of my boys. It was confirmed — mostly dead fish hands, no eye contact. Of course, the first thing we did in class was demonstrate the proper handshake with eye contact and introduction. It made a few of the boys uncomfortable, but I suppose when your normal method of communication is via a keypad, it would seem a little strange.
So there you have it — two manifestations of our digital lifestyle that demonstrate the end of simple, hands-on experiences and communication and human interaction skills. I am as guilty of technology addiction as the next person, and my kids probably spend WAY to much time with devices, but I’m trying to pay attention to the little things that bring them back into the real world.
I am teaching them to make things with their hands, to enjoy the sounds of birds chirping in the park and the feel of grass under their feet, to recognize the perfect shape for a skipping rock and how to have real conversations. They need to know how to recognize sadness or fear on the face of a friend or loneliness in a classmate and be able to approach those peers and make eye contact and be a friend.
There’s so much to learn about the world on a screen, but there’s more to learn about people by being present in the real world. That’s how our kids can rescue themselves and us from this path we’ve paved for them. *takes Granny hat off*
Come back next week, when I tell you why kids not knowing how to play Uno also heralds the apocalypse.
Overheard at the salon: “I invited my mom on vacation, but her excuse was that her dog is too old.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.