Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Campfires and Computers


We had just about the most perfect Saturday ever. Of course, it involved our grandkids. Isn't that what heaven will look like--siting around with your grandchildren and doing something you both enjoy? In this case, the two things I enjoy most in the world are my granddaughters and sitting by a campfire. I got to do both Saturday.

Texas autumns last about 25 days so we have to enjoy each day we get. It always seems to me like we go directly from suffocating heat to ice storms. But last Saturday the air went from cool to warm and you couldn't complain about either. The sky was clear and there was just a hint of breeze. It was a perfect day to be outdoors.

Emily was off on a mini-vacation to New York City with her sister so we kept the girls and Steve joined us late Friday night after work. We had the whole day Saturday to do whatever we want. Steve may secretly wish he had married into a family of football people but he never lets on if he does. With his only other TV choice being a Sponge Bob Squarepants marathon he preferred to help Beaven clear brush.

We have a spot where our pond overflows into the woods and the creek. It provides a lot of vines and brush to clear. They put on their gloves and grabbed a chainsaw and commenced to do all that macho scratching and spitting stuff men do. Meanwhile, the girls and I fed the brush into a fire.

I found a vine hanging from a tree that was perfect for swinging. Once the girls had the hang of it (unintentional pun) they spent the rest of the day swinging on the vine. Sarah perfected her technique and eventually could pick the spot she landed.



Here she is looking over her shoulder to choose her spot. Eventually the men and the fire both slowed down enough for lunch. For lunch we had hot dogs and S'mores. Later, for dinner we had more hot dogs and some kind of apple thing you cook in the coals. Steve remembered the recipe from his Cub Scout days. Nobody worried about getting the table messy. Well, nobody around here ever worrries about that except me. But it made for a much more relaxing meal without Granny freaking out.

We stayed outside by the fire until dark. That's the best time of all for a campfire. The tiredness of your muscles allows your thoughts to take over in a relaxed way and wander around aimlessly. You can have some of the best conversations of your life sitting around an evening campfire. The fire dies down to coals. The wind will periodically blow through the coals until the colors dance from bright orange to quiet red. There is nothing better than to watch the coals dance. I like to think when I get to heaven that's how I will spend eternity.

When we finally went into the house for baths and bed someone brought up the subject of Sharks. Sarah must have been studying them in school. She went to the computer and was telling Beaven all about them then said the words that stopped me in my tracks. With great confidence that comes from being in the second grade, she said: "If you can get me into Google I can show you."

The next thing I knew she was blithly surfing the internet at our computer. My first thought was what a smart grandkid I have who can already use a computer better than some adults. But my thoughts soon turned to horror. What would my seven year old granddaughter find on the information superhighway after typing in the work "shark?" Loan sharks? Los Angeles gangs? "Shark" is one of those words that can be used for many dangerous-sounding organizations. But we had opened Pandora's Box and there was no getting the lid back on.


Sarah is now an electronic neighbor to the entire world. She has access to information leading to the cure for cancer as well as the instructions to build a bomb. She's open to information her grandparents never dreamed and she's vulnerable to the lowest level of humankind.

I am left with more than questions about sharks. How do we protect her? Do we isolate her or help her make safe choices about what she sees? What do we teach her about how to relate to the world around her? This is such a basic question that it could relate to international politics if you have enough wood for the campfire.

Beaven and I are going to Longview in a couple of hours to celebrate our anniversary. Maybe we'll find some hilarious adventure. See you next Wednesday.

1 comment:

Mike McC. said...

It sounds trite, but the best way to keep her safe is to ask yourself those questions and keep an eye over her shoulder. As you said, "She's open to information her grandparents never dreamed."

And Texas campfires at night are a slice of heaven.