What's Wrong With Looking Out the Window?
I saw some horrible minivan/SUV ad today that features dual DVD players "for the kids." Oh, great. I think one is a lousy idea. But two? Who needs two?
What's wrong with looking out the window? I used to love it when I was a kid. Hell, I still do. I love it when Husband drives and I have free reign to look for deer and birds, read odd bumper stickers, look into people's yards. It's great fun. And don't give me that crap about "keeping kids entertained." That does keep kids entertained.
When I was a kid we used to all pile into a huge station wagon (no SUV. No pop-up table. No cup holders. No DVD player.) We had an 8-track player and AM radio. Eight people in one station wagon for a six-hour trip up to the mountains. Sure we fought and got bored and got on each other's nerves. But we also sang cheesy songs, played the license plate game, and played the "three things" game. Everyone had three things that had to find on their trip. Like a red pick-up truck or a motorcycle with two people on it. If you were the first to find your three things, you won.
But mostly we just looked out the windows. I think that's where I got my interest in photography, and my appreciation for seeing things that most people overlook. I would love thinking I was the only person to spot that herd of cows grazing on the hillside. Or the river playing hide-and-seek with the highway.
I think it's sad that we're raising a generation of kids who will never look out the window. Whose idea of a road trip with the family is to strap on headphones and watch their own movie. No talking. No interaction. Just you and Finding Nemo. But I recall our trips as a time when everyone in the family learned all the words to the Glenn Miller music my parents loved so much. As the time when we told bad knock-knock jokes, made up word games, and got inordinately excited when we saw a sign that began with the letter "X".
Remember that the journey is half the fun. It's not something to be gotten through quickly, ignoring each other, and not interacting. It's the perfect time to get your kids to keep an eye out for wildlife or to play the alphabet game with billboards. It's the time when all those camp songs you thought you'd forgotten should come back to you and be passed down.
I am so grateful my parents didn't have DVD players in the station wagon. Hell, if I remember correctly, they didn't even have enough seatbelts for all of us.