Wednesday, March 16, 2016

World Thinking Day 2016: A Trip to China, and an Electronics Fast

I've mentioned before that World Thinking Day is one of my favorite Girl Scout celebrations, a Girl Scout Geography Fair and a global issues unit study combined. Two years ago, the kids simply attended the Geography Fair without presenting their own country, and we studied the global issue of education rights. Last year, our troop gave an excellent presentation on Mongolia at the Geography Fair, and we studied Fair Trade.

FYI, that Fair Trade study still comes up, as the kids are fond of researching the "grade" of companies that we patronize. We did that just last week, when Will urgently needed some new clothes (the kid grows something like an inch a month--she always urgently needs new clothes!), and Syd was in charge of figuring out the best store to shop in. We finally settled on H&M, although with much discussion about the fact that the store's C grade isn't great, and that really, if clothing is that cheap, there's probably something unethical going on somewhere down the line, because otherwise how could a person have been paid a living wage to make it?

I bet I've also mentioned before the fact that I LOATHE shopping!

This year, our troop gave an excellent presentation on China at the Girl Scout celebration. I was too distracted to take many photos, but each child was in charge of an informational display on some topic (Will covered the Girl Guides of Hong Kong, and Syd covered Mandarin), they took turns manning the activities (Mandarin writing on a Buddha board, stamping passports, and using chopsticks to transfer beans)--

--and they performed a version of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" with the animal names sung in Mandarin, and of course there were costumes. And a dragon that chased away the other animals at the end.


That work on the Geography Fair was actually enough for Syd, a Junior, to earn her World Thinking Day badge, but Will, a Cadette, had to do an additional activity to help her more deeply understand our privileged access to a connected society: she had to go an entire 24 hours without electronics, mwa-ha-ha!

The entire family, of course, joined her in her electronics fast out of solidarity (except that when the kids were at the library, I raced back home and snuck in some work on the computer--don't tell!), and I tried particularly to make it a fun experience for them. I wanted the kids to feel the loss of their screens somewhat, because I wanted them to understand that lack of access to technology isn't fair, but I also wanted them to understand that choosing to avoid access to technology also opens one up to enriching connections in other ways. So even though I did make them do school--

--we listened to records all day instead of CDs and Spotify, I got the kids (mostly Will, with Syd fluttering around and pretending like she was helping when she actually wasn't) to help me get a ton of tedious and tiring yardwork done, and we played a LOT of games:

I was pleased to see that Will was drawn into games that she normally wouldn't be, such as these Story Cubes.
Timeline, however, is the favorite game of both of us.
 This is also how the current Kapla block obsession began, an obsession that still continues, as the Kapla block city that's taking up most of the walking space in our big family room can attest. Before the city came to be, there was the usual challenge of "Let's build a tower tall enough to touch the ceiling!"

In our old house, this was a do-able feat, and often accomplished. In this house, however, with its vaulted ceilings tall enough to host an aerial silks rig...

Well, even Matt had trouble, even after we convinced him to stand on top of a dictionary on top of a bar stool:

"Stand on top of two dictionaries on top of the bar stool!" we encouraged him, as he protested that he did not want to do such a thing.

"What could possibly go wrong?" we countered.

Oh, just the inevitable...

"Connect" was this year's World Thinking Day theme, and it truly played out in this experience. It's easy, in the pattern of our days, to gradually disconnect from each other, to find ourselves spending our days with me working, Syd playing with her toys in the next room, Will on the couch reading, and our evenings eating take-away in front of a movie with Matt--it's together, yes, but it's not necessarily connected. Since then, however, I've made a conscious effort every day, several times a day, to take a break from my work and connect with each child. I've sat down on the floor and played more times in the past week than I have in the past month. I've initiated more games. I've offered more treats. And it's been wonderful, of course, especially to see a kid's face light up when I sit down next to her on the floor and say that yes, I absolutely want to build a new house for her village, and to eventually lure a kid who is sulking at having to sit at the dinner table into staying there long after her sister has left to tell us all about Skulduggery Pleasant and the arcane rules behind naming in his world, and to make fun of what I decided is my "taken" name--Panther Zephyrino.

Please call me Panther Zephyrino from now on, Friends, and do not use my given name to mind control me.


Tina said...

Panther, I love the disconnecting from electronics idea! I know that I get so much more done in a day when I don't turn my computer on and misplace my phone.

With being in a new place, we are working on making connections. It's super tiring some days, especially as everything is coordinated through facebook. Can't wait to have at least a basic network of support so I can back away from fb again.

We tried reinstating game night, but the hubbies schedule, which we thought was going to be pretty set, is anything but. Oh well.

Thanks for the reminder to connect with my kiddo. Off to see if she wants to do something together while we wait for our treadmill to get delivered!

julie said...

I've heard of some families who do electronics fasts for a week at a time, but if I tried that, Will would likely riot--a trip to the library and an hour of screen-time are the sole tools in my toolbox of Getting Her to Do Her Schoolwork. And I guess she's off electronics for the week that she's at sleepaway camp, so there's that, too.

Treadmill!!! I LOVE my treadmill, but it's also super old. Is yours going to be super new?

Tina said...

I am pretty sure my hubby would wither up and die if he had to go more than a day or two without electronics. Me and Emma? We would probably be massively productive.

We looked into getting a used treadmill, but I really love the idea of a warranty. It was suppose to be here a few weeks ago, but the first one that got shipped was damaged during shipment and the assembly company refused the shipment. Then it was supposed to be delivered between 12-4 on Friday and at 3:55 we got a call that the truck was broken down and they were not going to get it delivered. After we waited around for almost four hours. Ugh. At this point, it might have just been better to get one off craigs list. Oh well, time to quit my complaining and go play with the chicks!