My too-cool-for-his-grandma, thirteen-year-old grandson asked me the other day if me and his grandpa “lived off the grid.” The little toot was referring to the fact that we live on three, shaggy acres six miles outside a small town. We do not mow the lawn until the spring wildflowers go to seed, so our ecosystem is a little WILD.
Grandpa HoneyBunch attempts a summer vegetable garden every year and he collects rain water to care for his plants. Those big, bulky rain bins do not lend themselves to the esthetics of the place, neither does the compost pile, so we do look a bit RUSTIC.
HB loves to hunt and fish, so it is not unusual for me to fix a roast one does not usually find in the meat department at the grocery story. At our family gatherings the grandchildren are expected to eat whatever I fix, and they are expected to finish whatever is on their plate. Their grandfather does not believe in waste.
Our nearest neighbors are an acre away, but our most frequent visitors are usually skunks, snakes, and huge spiders. Migratory birds and an assortment of owls and hawks also frequent our three acres, so the kids see us as the living biosphere version of the WILDERNESS.
Inside the house, we have two wood stoves, four air conditioner window units, and a TV that is older than our oldest grandchild. We do not own a PlayStation or iPods, so in a world obsessed with the latest version of electronics, I can understand why our grandson thinks we are ARCHAIC.
I hate to disappoint him but we have water, electricity, and flushing toilets, all provided by the city for a fee, but if we had to go “off the grid,” we might be able to do it with more ease than he could. We have access to the Internet and Direct TV, and our cell phones are just as smart as his. I own a Kindle and my car has Bluetooth, but what might buy me some points on his how-archaic-is-my-grandma scale, is that I own the Oral B Pro 5000™ toothbrush, and it too has Bluetooth capability! Bam! We are just as embryonically attached to the grid as he is!
I answered him we are “on the grid,” but try not to abuse it nor are we dependent on letting it define who we are. We want all our grandkids to learn that, so when he comes over, I limit his electronics. I force him to go outside, get some fresh air, and get bitten by chiggers. I want him to appreciate that food does not magically appear prepackaged at the grocery store, and there is benefit to eating fruits and vegetables instead of chicken nuggets and takeout pizza. I want him to learn that he is responsible for his own learning, health, and survival, and I want him to develop the art of human conversation, imagination, and interaction.
That’s the trick, isn’t it? We all live off the grid; we are dependent on it, but it is not there for us to abuse it, nor is it there to steal our independence. By asking his question, my grandson showed his intelligence and sense of humor. There is still hope for him if we can get him to tear himself away from all those seductive electronics so that he can observe the more alluring world around him.