Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Modern Conveniences
Modern Losses

On July 12th I wrote Family Dinner and Zan Commented that cooking together and washing dishes together were also valuable.

Sometimes we lose as much, if not more, than we gain with modern conveniences. The car gets us places faster, and robs us of exercise and fresh air and connection with the natural world and a chance to know our neighbors in an organic way. And, when we get home from that quick trip to the store, what are we going to do with that saved time that would be as valuable as what we lost? How many of us take the car only when the time saved, or the ability to transport more stuff, is worth more than the walk would be? I didn't have a car until I was 26. I got myself and my young children around with a double stroller; for shopping, I pushed the stroller and pulled a "little old lady" cart. Julie and Richard got to see the world as we passed through it slowly. We talked about things. We stopped and watched buildings being built. We stopped and watched BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, the San Francisco Bay Area subway system) being built. We talked to people and petted dogs. We laughed and sang and they learned nursery rhymes. I was strong, I was healthy, and my freckles never faded!

We didn't have a dish washer until I was in high school. My mother and I did the dishes together. We talked about everything. The things I never would have said in front of my step-father and younger siblings. Private girl things, older-sister-driven-crazy-by-the-littles things, goofy stuff. My mother told me about being a teenager herself. We told each other silly jokes. We talked about all the things that mattered and all the things that didn't matter. It was the one time every day when I had my mother's undivided attention, when no one else was wanting either of us to do something else. It was wonderful time. I loved it.

How much are children being robbed of by dishwashers? Loading a dishwasher is a pretty solitary task for most families. Heck, when my kids were growing up, the deal was that everyone loaded their own dishes and then whoever was in charge of kitchen clean up that night loaded the serving dishes and pots and pans. Hardly very social. And, so we save some time over dishes. What are we doing with that precious time? Watching TV? Playing computer games? Text messaging? Better to do the dishes by hand and laugh with your mother, in my book.


J said...

I think I'll keep my dishwasher, though, thanks. Maya and I have our time when we take our walks, which we love. I do agree that with every gain, however, we lose something.

Ms. Mamma said...

Ah, MG- I got rid of a 36" Sony flat screen when True was born, dumped cable and have no dishwasher. This sets the stage for good things, indeed. We read, we play we just hang out, go for walks and enjoy eachother's company. At this point, I barely remember what life is like with a TV(okay we do have the 13" Sponge Bob, but who the hell IS Sponge Bob?!)

naomi said...

one of my favorite photos of my two children shows them washing dishes together. must have been the late 1970s and i'd reluctantly agreed to dishwasher as part of kitchen remodelling. the family joke is our discovery--when we did want to use it--that the rubber ring had dried out from non-use. still glad we did it!

Ally Bean said...

my mother never had a dishwasher in any of her homes so we had many, many years of doing the dishes together!! while i adore my dishwasher, there is something lost with it.

i think that we all adapt so gradually to new machines that we easily forget how it used to be and what is lost. good post.