The “i’s” Don’t Have It

Spring has sprung here in the Halton area.  Luckily we are abundant with trails, nature, and trees.  All kinds of opportunity to bond with nature or run screaming from it depending on your leanings.  I embrace nature.  I adore trees.  I love listening to birds sing and have the new age music complete with said twitters to prove it.  See ? You don’t need to tweet to have twitters !  This weekend my daughter asked to go hiking at Mount Nemo – a more gorgeous piece of the Niagara escarpment would be harder to find – so off we went.

My kids are at that age where they like to bring friends along on just about everything.  I’m sure if I would be willing to pick up a friend to make grocery shopping more appealing, they’d go for it.  My daughter in particular has a nice little group of friends who I enjoy.  They are an interesting bunch that fight over who is the current BFF, share clothes, etc.  For the most part my daughter does better in singles not groups.  She finds the group dynamic hard as she has cultivated friends who meet all kinds of different needs but don’t necessarily gel well together.

This hike was with her friend Hannah.  Hannah is new to the Plouffe family and it’s taking a bit of adjusting on my part.  She comes from a challenging family situation that has inadvertently exposed my daughter to some things I’d rather she not deal with yet.  To her credit, my daughter has handled it all quite well and it has opened up some interesting topics for us.  So Hannah was invited to hike at Mount Nemo and off we went.

One thing I am still quite set against is giving kids too much electronic distraction.  TV is one thing but handheld this and “i” that just bugs me.  Give your kid a book.  Give them pencils and paper.  Give them paint.  Give them material.  Give them something other than another screen to stare at and crush their creativity.  I recognize that this type of technology is here to stay – I’m no Luddite.  I just wish that parents would not encourage such dependency on electronics.  I bought my daughter a cell phone but only out of sheer desperation when she was being horribly bullied at school and needed more security.  Other than that, I’m afraid we are “i” -less and I don’t think any the poorer for it just yet.

So off we trot with our back pack of water and snacks (mom being the obligatory mule) and me with my mom’s camera.  Semi-unbeknowst to me, Hannah has stashed her “i” on her person and is bringing this bit of techo-annoyance on the hike.  Not my kid, not my worry although my kids know better :).  I have an aversion to nature and technology.  There is a time and place for everything and to me this is neither.  Yes, I have my cell phone which has no data plan and limited texting.  If someone wants to get a hold of me that badly they can do it the old fashioned way and call me personally.

As we meander through the muck and trees, I feel my tension slipping a bit.  Trees are a panacea for all that ails me.  I even secretly touch them softly and whisper thank you.  Such life givers.  Such testiments to strengthy and flexibility.  Such symbols of longevity and grace.  I think when I complete my life cycles and finally reach the end of my lessons, I’d like to come back as a tree.  What would be better than providing shelter, oxygen, beauty and food just by virtue of the seed that fell in the dirt ? Fascinating.

During my tree love-in, I notice the “i” slipping out of Hannah’s pocket.  I notice my daughter, who would otherwise be noticing nature, checking out the “i”.  I also hear some type of god-awful rap tune emanating from the “i” thing that immediately begins to counter-act my tree panacea.  I’m in a sea-a of distress and aggravation at this point.  As nicely as humanly possible I advise Hannah that the “i’s” do not have it while we are hiking.  True to form, my daughter backs me up and also kindly advises her friend that it would not be wise to cross me on this.  God bless her.

This continues as a battle through out the hike.  I take hiking seriously in that nature stirs me creatively, calms me emotionally and just in general is good for me.  When technology rears it’s ugly head other than a camera to try and bring some of the treely goodness back home with me, I get cranky.  They even took to hiding in order to access the “i”…

sneaking down a chasm for some "i" time ... grrrr.

Needless to say my daughter saw the look on my face and immediately advised her friend to put it away ….

I know I sound like a needless hard-ass but I want my kids to be able to appreciate nature and not be distracted by something electronic every 5 minutes.  It is important to me that they understand that value of the resources we are lucky enough to have around us.  I recognize that at their age I must pick my battles and my friends, this one I’m sticking with.   I will take up arms as necessary to protect our hiking time.  I don’t ask much – I even went so far as to encourage them to scarper down the chasms which for an anxiety ridden contingent planner like me was challenging.  Keeping safety in mind, my hand was on the dreaded cell phone just in case search and rescue had to be called.

My hope, besides one day ending up as a tree, is that my kids will be able to function without an excessive dependance on technology.  They are already very versant in computers, etc.  I realize that it is reality for them to have these skills.  But I want them to be able to recognize beauty as well: be it hiking, a museum, a walk on the beach or whatever we choose to do.  And you can’t truly appreciate the world around you with your head bent over some type of device, thumbs flailing madly caught up in the “i” instead of the we.  After all, there is no “i” in tree …

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