Whirlygigs, Juciy Fruit and Overfed and Undernourished children

It is Saturday morning in America. Millions of children are engaged in some of their favorite activities. Vigorously messaging away on their cell phones, fighting the horrific and violent invaders on the latest gameboy or totally absorbed in television cartoons, the most exercised part of their bodies’ their thumbs, they pursue what seems to have become part of the great and heavily commercialized passion for connections.

What would happen if a different picture of Saturday morning emerged? One, for example, if dads (and I do mean dads) and their children paid a visit to the hardware store.

No, not the new, brightly lighted and overstocked warehouses filled with row upon row of products beckoning to find their way into the huge rolling shopping carts being pushed to hurry and exit the computerized checkout lane. A different kind of hardware store. The one that signals your entrance with a bang of an old screen door and the jingle of a bell that sets you at ease and bids you welcome. The kind of place where the freshly oiled wooden floors bear the scuff marks of generations and the ceiling is covered with old squares of embossed aluminum, generously sheltering paddle fans and old empty kerosene lanterns. Amidst the somewhat disorganized shelves are a mixture of desirable and useful tools, boxes of model airplanes to be built and faded packages of patterns to make dresses from feed sacks. Here too one finds a seldom seen friend and, if lucky, another child or too, using imagination to wistfully scan the strange collection of handmade toys such as a whirlygig or a disjointed figure dancing on a wooden paddle Instead of a computer there is a bulky old cash register that is opened by the press of keys and along side it sits a box of Juciy Fruit gum and a glass jar filled with BB bats.

In this remnant of the past there is the opportunity for children to hang onto something unique. Instead of the “flat learning” in front of the TV screen or playing a video game, here, on another kind of Saturday morning, they can enter a round world that invites their creative ability and stirs their imagination. Instead of sitting, they can move. Instead of being encouraged to absorb the latest sugar coated breakfast treat, they can learn to make choices. Instead of being stimulated by violence they can appreciate the wisdom of their elders. Instead of fearing new places they can enjoy the comfort of a surrounding that was built on securing the continuity of generations past and a pathway to future connections.

Perhaps it won’t be in an old fashioned hardware store or some other remnant of the past where a dad and his children can spend a Saturday morning or more. picking up a pack of Juicy Fruit gum and finding a handmade toy to enjoy. What it is hoped they will find is a time away from the stimulating world of computer games and violent videos to a happening where being together is all that really matters.

 

About Olson Huff, MD

Olson Huff is a pediatrician, author, husband, father of three sons and grandfather of four dynamic and growing grandchildren. Often described as a visionary leader and eclectic thinker, his efforts have always been to acknowledge the power, value and delight to be found in ALL children. As a pediatrician he has used his skills as a clinician to provide healing, as an author his words to reveal the spirit of children and as an advocate to plead their case from the state house of politics to the White House of policy changes. His vision is that ALL children will have the very best start in life from their earliest years of development to the brightness of the future they aspire to shape. He believes ALL children have a right to affordable, quality health care, clean and safe environments and homes that cherish their presence.
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