Tuesday, February 16, 2010

said and unsaid

I don't know what to say here tonight.

The world is so much bigger than my four little walls. Yet, these four walls are what I know. They are my experience, my life, so writing about them is natural to me. But the world is so much bigger than that. So why would you, sitting inside your four walls, want to hear about mine?

Brian and I have been talking lately about the role of media in our family. We saw a family at dinner the other night - the three preteenish children were on ipods? iphones? something handheld, the father (presumably) was on his cell phone, and the mother (presumably) was staring into space, looking bored. What's the point? Brian asked. Why spend the money going out to dinner if nobody talks to one another? Social media (isn't it all social media?) serves an important function, in that it connects us to one another. My friends and I plan playgroups through facebook, blogs remind me I'm not the only one surrounded by four walls every day, and through email I have ongoing conversations with friends across the country. But when our tools for connecting to one another create a false reality - when I begin to relate more easily and more eagerly to the people inside the box than the people in my living room, or neighborhood - there's a problem. I don't think that has happened in our home, but talking through it has reminded me how important it is to be mindful of where I put my energy. Moderation in all things, right?

I have also been thinking a lot lately about our responsibility as believers in caring for orphans. There's a local organization preparing to bring Haitian orphans to our area, and I have been following their story as they get ready (incidentally, this is a well-established, reputable organization that has served orphans internationally for 24 years. They are going through appropriate legal Haitian and American channels to serve children who were orphaned previous to the earthquake until either a permanent home can be found for them, or until their orphanage is equipped to serve them again in Haiti. This is not some crackpot stealing children and believing themselves righteous for doing so). I'm also following Missy's story, and Adrienne's. I recently read a narrative of the experience of growing up in multiple foster homes, and never forming an attachment to anyone. Friends, it took me days to recover - but I don't really want to recover. That is someone's reality. I am lucky enough to know nothing about that life firsthand, so I have the privilege of choosing how much I want to know. But it is happening - not just in Haiti, but in my city and in yours - all the time. I'm more aware of the need to respond every day.

Orphans and social media. I guess I do know what to say here tonight after all.


Kendra said...

People make fun of my cell phone all the time, because it is SO old and can't do anything fancy. But the truth is I prefer it that way. I need it that way. I know I have to have boundaries. If I had a cell that could get on the internet and do all kinds of fancy things, I WOULD pull it out at dinner, or red lights, etc. And it would over run my life.

Mrs. Shehane said...

Thanks for the connection. I'll use it as a writing prompt today in my classes.

Food for thought.
"The family is a haven in a heartless world. "~Attributed to Christopher Lasch

ljkgates said...

I love your blogs Steph. Sunday when I heard about the orphans from Haiti coming I thought, "I wonder if Brian and Steph are considering this." Why did I think that? Because the two of you have the biggest, kindest, hearts. That's not saying it will happen I just knew at that moement where your hearts were. If dad and I weren't so close to retirment I would be checking in to it myself.

Lisa said...

I think a lot about orphans too. There is so much need in the world. I just can't imagine what goes through the minds of these children, though, when they are adopted at older ages. Confusion? Relief? Guilt? I see how my child deals with a change in routine or with one of us being absent for a few days for a trip or something, and I see how important attachment and relationships and a sense of normality are for kids. How hard it must be not to be allowed the blessing of having any real attachments until they are older. To be ripped out of their "normal" and placed in another situation, no matter how much better their permanent home is, must be so very hard.

Cindy said...

I'm with Kendra on the cell phone thing. When my Internet fancy phone perished earlier this year I went back to a hand-me-down archive phone. I don't miss it enough to go back to spending $360 a year on the data service part of the plan.

I saw a similar family out and about, both kids playing handheld video games while the parents were on their two phones. How do parents these days deal with how inundated kids are in regards to media and electronics? Seems like it will be quite a juggling act, wanting them to be fluent in technology without sacrificing relationships. Maybe I should have stuck with that psychology research after all...

Stephanie said...

Linda - The Haitian Orphan Project is heavily relying on volunteers to both prepare for the kids and to provide materials and interaction once they get here, so if you are interested there are several ways to be involved.

Kendra - I have an old cell phone too. And I don't text (which earns me plenty of flak). Boundaries are good.

Lisa - I think all the time about how much my children need and thrive in the attachments they have, and in a general sense of safety and of "home." I can't imagine, either, what life is like for children who grow up without that.

Cindy - I think about your college research all the time. I think moderation and parameters have to matter, right? We're setting the tone for that in our home now in how we use television, and in how our kids see us use the internet and phones in daily life (although we can argue about how well we're doing - last week my friend I talk to on the phone nearly every day was at daily mass, and her phone rang. Her daughter leaned over and said, "Mom, it's Miss Stephanie.") The conversation has been really interesting, though, because it's caused me to think about what we value as a family and how we're teaching our kids to value the same things.