During children's rug time yesterday at church, I was reminded of all my children don't know, of the history that I am so well aware of that they in their youth are ignorant of. Our Pastor referred to a slide in his story...you know, the old days of slide projectors...that kind of slide...and Matthew spoke up asking "What's a slide?".
How many memories from our own childhoods do our younger children have no knowledge of? I remember watching filmstrips in school, most of which seemed to feature Jiminy Cricket for some unknown reason. 8 track tapes of Dionne Warwick whom my Dad adored and the BeeGees who were my mom's favorite. At the time they were younger than I am now! There was Trick or Treating at EVERY house on the block without fear of razor blades being hidden in candy bars and "Harvest Parties" were unheard of. We actually had to get up to change the channel on the TV...usually from "Bonanza" to the "Partridge Family"....and we only had about 6 channels we received on our TV antenna. Listening to the Oakland A's play baseball with our mom on the little red pocket transistor radio. Horror of all horrors, riding in the little nook behind the back seat in a Volkswagon Beetle with no seat belt. Banana seat bikes with white baskets with huge daisies on the front hanging from the handle bars.
What will be the cherished memories of our children? Afternoons where hours were spent bouncing on the trampoline? Listening to mom read them a story long past the stage when they are old enough to read for themselves? Sleepovers with kids piled high on the living room floor giggling until well past midnight? What technology will be invented between their own childhoods and their children's? Will they too feel at times like their childhoods were so drastically different from their own children's?
One thing I have noticed is how much harder it is to explain life to our children than it was for my mom to explain it to me. Much of what we do today is intangible...there is nothing to hold or touch. Music is an MP3 file, photos are digitized and sent over the miles seemingly by magic through our computers, our lives are recorded on blogs which are stored on computers far away. These things that record the passing of our life are like external memory banks, the items are there, just hidden.
That is sort of like our emotions...they are there and they are real but they are intangible and can not easily be held. Sometimes they can not be easily identified, just as computer files with unrecognizable names. We have to name them ourselves, we have to isolate them, we have to understand what they are or they remain anonymous and scrambled nonsense.
That is our job to do with our kids, to help them name those things for which they have no name, to help them understand that which they do not understand. We have to explain to them the power of those emotions and what to do with them, just as we have to explain what the objects of our past are...objects that are so familiar to us yet so foreign to someone who has never seen them. We are, in a way, interpreters of the world for our children. Why is it then that we don't stop to think about helping them interpret those all important emotions but we can easily understand why we need to explain the inner workings of the computer to them?
Our job doesn't stop at the tangible...no, our job only begins there. The hardest part is explaining the intangible, and sometimes in the teaching a little learning occurs as well.