Dear Grandparenting: I live in a corner of the world that is considered one of the finest on the East Coast. People come to visit Virginia Beach and wind up moving here. Most people think this neck of the woods is a gem for its outdoor and natural beauty and the wonder of it all. My grandchildren must think it’s a garbage dump because I can hardly get them outdoors when they visit.
It was my late husband’s idea to move here when he finally retired. This house is spacious and has four bedrooms. A big reason I kept this place was because I was so sure that my grandchildren would enjoy the beach and everything else there is to do. Wrong! They are glued to their computers or cell phones or whatever other new gadget they bring along. It never stops. Go ahead and invite your friends down, I told them. That didn’t happen either. I cannot imagine what my grandchildren would do with themselves if they were separated from their from all this Internet stuff. It gets to be too much, agreed? Alicia Spence, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Dear Alicia: The relationship between today’s grandchildren and the natural world is often contradictory. On the one hand, they are the first “green” generation, environmentally aware and indoctrinated about the need to save the planet from global warming. But on the other hand, many grandchildren spend considerably less time cavorting in the great out-of-doors than their elders, and we think they’re poorer for it.
Richard Louv, author of “The Last Child in the Woods,” contends that changing lifestyles and an increased fear of strangers has created a “nature deficit disorder” that threatens to enfeeble the emotional and physical development of America’s youth.
According to Louv, “wonder” is the key element that grandchildren are missing — the wonder of it all, as you put it. Grandchildren willingly live under virtual house arrest, tethered to their pricy electronic toys. But the best high-definition big screen TV fails to approximate the real thing — being there at sunrise, listening to the wind as clouds move through the sky, playing in the surf, a good walk in the woods, the bouquet that arises after a summer shower in the country. These are the experiences of a life in full, and it looks like a goodly number of grandchildren are taking a pass.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Westy Bradley from Everett, Washington, reports that his Thanksgiving was punctuated by political arguments among family members.
After granddaughter Reba overheard one heated exchange, she rolled her eyes. “Listen to them all talking at the same time,” she told Westy. “That’s what I learned NOT to do in kindergarten.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.