“I’m going to say this with a little bit of sarcasm,” he said. “I did appreciate the no screens…a little.”
Weird, but true. Those were the words that came out of my video game-crazed, ten year-old son’s mouth.
“A little,” he re-emphasized. “A little bit of appreciation.” A big grin across his face. He didn’t want me to get a wild idea–no way, no how. He didn’t want no screens to become status quo.
We don’t always announce our appreciation to each other. But on this last night of our week-long vacation in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, we took a moment to say thanks to each member of the family for their positive contributions.
And so many positive contributions there were. Each of us were present in ways we seldom are at home. No phones, tablets, or game consoles for the week. We unplugged.
It’s true, screen time can sometimes offer solace for us parents. But the fact is, when it ends, kids are jacked up on adrenaline and become overly-emotional. Making a pact to unplug for the week meant the kids stopped asking about their next allotment of time. In the afternoons, they’d retreat to the tent for “their time,” which consisted of chitty-chatter, sketch pads, books, and games.
The week was also filled with hikes to random destinations, learning about geysers, devouring Junior Ranger booklets, reading and more reading, perfecting our frisbee throw, searching out swim holes, and of course eating ice cream under the scorching afternoon sun.
On our last day in Grand Teton National Park we visited Rockefeller Preserve and I discovered a truth. We humans have sought separation from the hustle and bustle of electronics and society for quite some time. And this separation is good for us. Whether it’s video games, TV, the news, emails or phone, our spirit requires a bit of natural recharging now and again. Even a video game obsessed, ten year-old boy can feel the difference a week of wilderness has on the soul.
“In the midst of the complexities of modern life, with all its pressures, the spirit of man needs to refresh itself by communion with unspoiled nature. In such surroundings–occasional as our visits may be–we can achieve that kind of physical and spiritual renewal that comes alone from the wonder of the natural world.”
-Laurence S. Rockefeller