Friday, October 16, 2009
Dump your Internet provider and take your TV to the Swap Shed?
Fortunately, I was a parent of teenagers back in the ’80s instead of now. No, raising teenagers has never been an easy job. But recently, if you have been reading about what has been going on at our local high schools, parents of my generation must realize that things were easier for us back then.
TV was available in most households, but not with the number of channels one can turn to these days, and the quality of programming was certainly of a much higher caliber. I remember watching the Bruins with my sons, or laughing together over Fawlty Towers on Channel 2. There was only one TV set in our household and there was a limit on what and how often our boys could watch. Reading books was an activity that all of us pursued.
More importantly, there was no Internet to waste those hours, that once were spent reading, but now can be spent on line with Facebook or pornography. Even as communication between parents and their teenagers is hindered by the limited time they have together, you can be sure high school students are still communicating with their friends – and, in many cases, perfect strangers – via the Internet and cell phone. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter or just texting, kids of all ages are spending hours online every day.
Taking part in a team sport back in the ’80s did not mean practicing or playing games on Sundays. Then there were those Massachusetts Blue Laws, repealed in 1994, that prohibited shopping on that day and gave credence to the idea that it was a day to spend with the family, going to church, sitting around the dinner table with family and friends, or taking a walk in the Estabrook Woods.
Speaking of the dinner table, shouldn’t those of us with youngsters living at home make every effort to gather together at dinner time to share the meal and have the opportunity to talk about what has gone on in our lives during the past day? I know this is not easy, especially in families where both parents are working, but I believe the extra effort will pay off. This isn’t just a time for problem solving, but also a chance to talk about what has been going on in the world – these days it might be healthcare reform, global climate change, President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize or the Red Sox collapse.
Americans are living at a hectic pace, but I know of parents in Carlisle with teenagers who put their TV set in the cellar and bring it out only on special occasions. Many of these same families limit the time their young people can spend on the Internet. We live in a community with good schools and fine teachers, but aren’t parents the most important role models? And aren’t Mom and Dad the ones to offer support during stressful times, such as when their children are applying to colleges?
It is the parents, with support from their children, who should take a stand against this hectic life style that many of us are living. Sit down and have a meal together, go for a leisurely walk in the woods, and don’t forget to find the time to catch up with what is going on in your children’s lives.
Riddle of mystery walkers on Carlisle roads solved
Those of us who live on the western side of Carlisle, specifically on Cross, Acton, Heald, and South Streets, have grown accustomed over the past two decades or so to the sight of two hearty walkers braving the vicissitudes of Carlisle’s roads in all kinds of weather. The gentleman walks his route early in the morning, usually around 7:30 a.m. The lady with her dog goes by in the afternoon, sometime between two and four.
One day the lady stopped at the foot of our driveway to chat. Then we started to wave to her. Then we noticed that she went in one direction six days a week, but on Sundays she went the opposite direction – “unwinding the week,” as she so quaintly put it.
Farmers have their twice-daily milking routines; worshippers their fixed hours of prayer; commuters their routes and radio stations. We who live in this western section of Carlisle have our walkers. Administrations come and go; children start kindergarten and graduate; neighbors move in and out – but our walkers quietly ply the pavement that runs by our homes with a constancy as timeless as family.
One day several weeks ago a flyer appeared in our mailbox: an announcement of a party, for neighbors along Cross, Acton, Heald, and South Streets. Our walkers, Bruce and Sonia Stevenson, were married! To each other! For 50 years! The Friends and Neighbors page in the Mosquito gave more details: their son was none other than Selectman Doug Stevenson. We were staggered. Nevertheless, we couldn’t attend the reception in their honor; we had the 25th wedding anniversary of a brother in New Hampshire on the same day (what are the odds of missing a neighbor’s 50th wedding anniversary due to a family member’s 25th?).
I called Sonia Stevenson to get the inside scoop. She has been walking for 18 years. She’s on her second dog. She often sees the children getting off the bus after their school day. She brings small biscuits so the children can feed her dog. On her walks she often sees deer. Once she flushed a coyote from a thicket. She has even seen a rare fisher cat. She walks in all weathers, but does not walk when the snowplows are out. Her one complaint – drivers on Cross Street sometimes splash her as they drive through puddles on rainy days (Cross Street drivers – take note).
I also learned that the Stevensons take walking vacations – in England (Sonia’s native country), France, Italy, Switzerland, and, most recently, Croatia (she highly recommends The Wayfarers Walking Vacations).
Sonia told me that once a woman in a van with New Hampshire plates stopped her on Cross Street to say goodbye. The woman’s schedule had changed, and she would have to drive by half an hour earlier, and so would miss seeing her. I myself have stopped on Cross Street to introduce my new car to Sonia so she would know who was waving to her.
We salute the Stevensons and celebrate their 50 years together. One could do worse than be a daily walker of country lanes.
© 2009 The