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‘Hillbilly’ kitchen better than real thing

My generation would hear the “back in my day” tales from our parents and grandparents that always depicted a hard life, showing we were spoiled and took things for granted, and they were probably right.

Being born in the late 60s, my generation had television, microwaves, and dishwashers growing up. Most of us didn’t have to walk to school uphill both ways. Everyone had cars.

Now, our children and grandchildren get to hear stories too, but instead of how hard life was, they will be about how wonderful and simple life was for us.

We played outside all day long, using our imaginations. A large rock could be a rocket ship or throne or a meteor that was about to crash into Earth. I woke up most Saturday mornings by the sounds of Big Wheels coming down the sidewalk. After watching my favorite cartoons, out the door I went. If it rained, it was kind of nice too. I would cuddle up in my parent’s big bed and we’d watch old movies, napping here and there.

This weekend, a friend of mine posted a kitchen she made for her grandchild. She made it from cardboard boxes and there was a refrigerator, stove and oven and a cabinet. The fridge even had stickers all over the front of it to look like magnets. She apologized for it looking “hillbilly.”

It looked amazing.

While the world seems a dangerous place right now, there’s another issue facing our future generations — lack of imagination and creativity.

My 4-year-old granddaughter, Alex, danced around for 30 minutes this weekend, singing and telling a story that I only half followed, but she was so darned cute doing it, it didn’t matter. I heard “monsters” and “bad guys” and “super powers.” I think she was saving the world. My 6-year-old granddaughter spent much of her time playing games on her tablet.

Before children gain the ability and small motor skills to get on a computer, laptop or even cell phone (although it seems some are now born with that ability), they still spend much of their days using their imaginations; but it ends all too quickly these days. Babies still love playing with pots and pans, while older children have often ditched their Big Wheels for motorized mini-SUVs or sitting inside playing video games, where their make-believe world is now all drawn out for them on a big screen. Who needs to play Heroes and Villains in the living room in makeshift forts or outside on a nice day when they can push a few buttons and save the world?

There’s a lot of discussion about childhood obesity and getting kids to be more active for the sake of their physical health; however, I imagine a child who doesn’t know how to entertain themselves or use their imagination could grow up to be an adult who needs constant stimulation from outside sources. What will happen to our artists — our writers, painter, sculptors? Even scientists need to be able to think outside of the box and think of new ideas that aren’t clearly put in front of them.

Our world of technology is here and we can’t keep children from all of “cool” stuff that’s out there, but we can limit it and make sure children have time outside to play without a phone or tablet in their hands. We can read books to them, instead of downloading a story-telling app. We can fingerpaint with them and run around the house wearing pillow cases as capes and finally, put those ‘Bad Guys’ in jail.

We can keep making “hillbilly” kitchens for them to bake us some delicious mud pies.

Alyssa Schnugg is Senior Writer at the Oxford Eagle. Email her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com.