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    More Than a Glimpse

    August 2, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Since I haven’t yet uploaded the trip photos {actually, I am waiting for Si to work his computer magic}, I will continue with some of my trip-inspired thoughts. We really enjoyed visiting the various parks without our children. We often like to do things alone first, so that we can think about how we would do them later with the kids in tow. Does that make sense? We tend to overanalyze a lot of things {we do it on purpose}, and we like to go somewhere we think we might take the kids and think about how we would do it, how old they would need to be to go, and learn what we can from the parents we see while we are there. I jokingly call these activities “pretrips.”

    I was fascinated by the parent-child dynamic that I saw, especially at Sea World, which was by far the most crowded {the spaces were smaller}, and it had the most shows {dancing dolphins, that sort of thing}. I am sure the crowds and scheduled events influenced the parenting.

    What we saw were parents hurrying their children along. Fast. Too fast, in my opinion.

    I couldn’t help but think that here we are in this world where there are constant complaints that children are lacking in attention spans, and yet I saw, over and over, parents discouraging any development of concentration whatsoever. The most pronounced example I can think of was when we were watching the beluga whales. Really, the aquarium was much too small to have three whales in it, and there were so many people one had to crowd one’s way to the front.

    I remember a little boy wanting to stay and really look at the whales. He might have sat there for ten minutes, he was so interested. The parents rushed him by, consoling him with the fact that they took a photo he could look at later.

    Charlotte Mason came to mind. In Volume One, which I am currently reading, she speaks of developing the mind’s eye. She even contends that many childhood memories are blurred not because that is how childhood memories are, but because the scenes were never fully seen in the first place. A haphazard glance does not a memory make.

    I now raise the questions: is the point to see, or to have said one has seen? Is the point to build a good memory in one’s mind, or stage a really good photo? In the end, is it more important to have conquered the park, or indulged a little boy’s whim and spent “too much” time staring at amazingly white whales?

    I understand that some children dawdle. But I don’t think that was what was going on with the children at Sea World. They wanted to soak it in for a while, but their parents got in the way. These children wanted to really see, but they were only given the chance for a mere glimpse. It’s like wanting to read a book and being given a soundbyte instead.


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