Bringing the simple life home

Sep 06, 2011

A few weeks ago while on vacation, I told my four-year-old daughter who wondered why the phone was beeping to “hang it up,” and she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I tried it in Dutch (her stronger language), and that didn’t work either. She could tell she “should know” what I was talking about, since I no doubt used a tone that indicated “this is the most normal thing in the world.” And then it dawned on me – she truly had never heard the words “hang up” in this context before! Danny and I only use cell phones anymore (most of her life?). So I said, “put the phone back down on the base, and the beeping will stop.” And she said, “ohh!”

I laughed at us both, and then thought about all the things that are of a dying breed, will soon seem so old-fashioned to our kids, e.g. phone booths, huge hard drives and computer monitors, newspapers and non-digital books(?), wires in the house, and no doubt the list goes on and on and on. We recently visited the Netherlands’ oldest museum, Teylers, in Haarlem where the exhibit “Games and Gadgets” was taking place. It was like a time machine for me and Danny –outdated oranges, browns, and avocado green of the 1970s, old typewriters, vacuum cleaners, and telephones including the first clunky cell phones, a couple of Commodores where you could play “Pong” and “Space Invaders”, and many other things familiar only to those of us who lived “back in the day.”

Zaandam - nieuw & oud

Like Zaandam (see picture of how they creatively incorporate the old into the new into architecture), I try to be aware of holding on to “old-fashioned” things valuable to me, like gardening, walks in nature, and even non-digital connection time while at home and certainly while on vacation. It helps to model for our kids that “old fashioned” can also be a GOOD thing. When I introduce a book or movie set in the 1800s, they always balk at first, but quickly find themselves intrigued to see how different life can be – and how appreciative they should be of how much easier our lives have become. Though that may be something of a misnomer . . . our lives may seem easier due to all of our modern day conveniences; however the complexity of life has greatly increased. My mother has often told me she is not envious of “all of the choices” I face. I try to remember this as I and my partner go about parenting decisions. I see it reflected in how we attempt to keep our home, after-school, weekend, and even vacation life as straight-forward as we can. During those peaceful days in the Smoky Mountains (Tennessee), I appreciated the simplicity of it all. I thought about how we couldn’t possibly bring that home with us to Haarlem . . . but based on a tip from a friend, I focused on finding places in my body to “store” the feeling, so that I can better access it later (now) when daily complexities bombard us once again.

Cara Crisler
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