No Tech Day
I had a no technology summer day with my 12 year-old grandson. Like most kids his age, he spends much of his downtime playing on X-box. We decided to have an entire day with no screens. He wanted to build a tent in the backyard so I followed him on his quest. We walked through the woods behind houses, sawed down some low hanging branches, stripped smaller branches and took them to his backyard. We worked in the afternoon to set up our tent, which turned into more of a teepee. We duct taped the big branches together and turned smaller sticks into a wall frame. We taped some wood and cardboard around the sides to make walls. After stepping back to admire our creation, he covered the frame with light blankets to make a roof and placed a huge fluffy comforter inside on the ground as a bed. But when he showed his parents his masterpiece, he got in trouble. While they liked the teepee, that fluffy comforter was the nice one from their bed and now it was on the grass! Dad made him replace it with blankets from his own bed.
After a pizza and salad dinner in the house, he changed into his pajamas, declaring that he wanted to sleep in his new tent this very night. Carrying two pillows, he announced, “I want someone to go with me.” Both parents shook their heads “no”, as they had to work the next day, so I volunteered to join him, at least for a few hours.
As I tentatively descend the stairs into the back yard, I worry the night will be too cold or the ground too hard for me. But I decide to give it a try. The thin blanket placed over the thick backyard grass feels like a cushion, as if the ground is inviting me to hang out and be held. As I lie down and pull a blanket over me, I am greeted by air that feels fresh and warm on my arms and face. The smell of sweet grass fills my nose as I look up into the darkening night sky. I see only one star, then another appears. The more I look, the more the sky offers new bright dots. I find this slowly changing view hypnotizing and I am surprised how long I stare. It was like the stars were pulling my eyes to drink them in. I see an airplane light. It looks just like a star but it moves and blinks. Then I see a few fireflies flitting near the fence. They look just like stars too. I am mesmerized by this non-tech entertainment.
Filled by the beauty of nature, a feeling of serenity overtakes me. I hear the sounds of cicadas and my grandson’s slowed breathing. Before he drifts off to sleep I learn he is also inspired by the spell of this night. He tells me, “Lets do a nature outdoor challenge. Stay outside all day – bring breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and water.” I tell him that this is called camping but he has never been camping, so this is all new and wondrous to him.
He proudly said, “Today I did not play x-box all day for the first time ever.” As I got drowsy I said, “ let’s say one word to describe our feeling right now.” I said, “content”, he said, “chill.” I am pretty sure those two words mean the same thing.