Friday, December 4, 2009

Ring the Dinner Bell

Since becoming a new dad I find myself constantly comparing my childhood to Braden's. Obviously in 30 years there have been some major changes. As Brad Paisley sings in "Welcome to the Future" we now have things like TVs in our cars and Pac Man on our cell phones. Those things seemed as futuristic as the Jetsons when I was a kid. The changes brought about by the computer revolution and digital age have been covered ad nauseum. I have even written about life before computers and the internet.

What about the things that just seemingly pass away. There are no more VCRs. We no longer need typewriters. There are so many other things that my kids will never know about from machinery to toys to even words.

Today I was wondering if children of this generation are familiar with the dinner bell. Do they think it is a bell that rings when the oven timer goes off? Do they think it has something to do with feeding the dogs? Maybe they think it is the latest hip hop lingo introduced by the rapper du jour.

When I was a kid we played outside every day. My best friend and I played until we were forced to come home. We played in the strip of woods by our house constantly. It was really just a large grouping of trees, but it might as well have been the hundred acre wood to us. We killed hundreds of birds and even one very unlucky rabbit with our BB guns. We built clubs, climbed trees, and did anything else that fell under boys will be boys. The only thing that could bring us home was our mother's yell.

Every day one of our mom's would come to the porch and yell when dinner was ready. Granted this is not the traditional dinner bell, but it worked for us. We were at times a quarter mile away, but somehow our parents would always get the message to us via a loud shout.

There are many reasons why this type of dinner bell doesn't work today. The first most obvious reason is that kids are inside more often. They love video games. They love their virtual friends on facebook or whatever other social networking they are using these days. We all know that kids are just less active today.

Another reason is that the world seems scarier now. Not many parents let their kids roam free like we did back then. You just can't trust anyone anymore. My friend and I once got chased by a lady with a broom. Today that might have turned out much worse.

Finally there is the almighty cell phone. From what I can tell most kids get their own cell phone right after kindergarten graduation. So if by some chance a kid wanted to go outside a call is all that would be needed to bring them back.

For all those reasons today there is no need for a dinner bell just like there is no need for a record player. Let's hope though that we can find a safer, better place in this world so that we can at least use our over complicated computer phones to call our kids back to dinner from a day of exercise more often. I think this new type of dinner bell could benefit us all.


john cave osborne said...

what i really liked about this post was how evocative it was. who can't (among our age group) relate to the dinner bell? for me it conjures up images of rounding the bases in kick ball, and the inevitable grass-stained pants that king of the mountain left its participants with.

nice work... jco

CaJoh said...

I can't seem to shake They Might Be Giant's "Dinner bell" song…

Yes, I too remember that my parents used to do the same thing. Open up the front door and yell that dinner is ready.

WeaselMomma said...

When I was growing up the rule was we could go as from from the house as we wanted as long as we could still hear Mom when she yelled out the door for us.
Now if I were to yell for my kids off of the porch the neighbors would give me dirty looks.

PJ Mullen said...

No doubt, today we'd probably have the dinner text or tweet.

otin said...

You could hear my mother a half a mile away! LOL! My friends used to laugh at her.

Tom said...

I had one of those loud moms, too - normally quiet but when she wanted you to come home, she could be heard for blocks.

So true about things we don't have anymore. I wish my kids had a big vacant field to play in like we did, but there just aren't any of those any more. And I wish I could send them out to play and know they'd be okay even if they're not in my sight. Maybe someday that'll be the case again.

Mike said...

Of course at what age is your kids getting the cell phone? Mine didn't get theirs until they were old enough to be responsible. Until then it was up to me to scream when dinner was ready...