A lot has been written about how kids today are not as creative and curious as kids of "our generation." Overly structured schedules (hello! we have not had dinner together as a family once this week!) as well as mind-numbing electronics certainly have taken their toll.
In my house I've noticed what I consider to be a related phenomenon: Zero Snooping.
When I was a kid, I was familiar with every nook and cranny in my family's large 1830's farmhouse. No drawer or cupboard escaped my notice. The family silver, in its zip-up leather case enticed me to sort and admire it.
Old trunks with magazines articles about John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, jr beckoned me, as did yellowed clippings of my mom as Homecoming Queen or sporting a "Smart Wool Suit" made for 4-H club.
Baby clothes and Christmas ornaments piled high in boxes in our attic "junk room" provided both an obstacle course and hours of entertainment.
A lack of tv channels, a dearth of close friends, and a mom who went about her household business with zero hovering, afforded me ample snooping opportunities.
My snooping made me an excellent "finder" when something got lost. "That's in the back of the guest room drawer, third from the top" would not have been an unusual response from me when something needed finding. My mother thought I might have special intuitive powers, but I think I was just a relentless snoop.
I remember finding the book, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask" under my parents bed. Wowza!
I found a little note card, supplied by a pharmacy, in my dad's dresser drawer. It was titled: "How to Tell if your Child is On Drugs." One look in the mirror at my larger than normal pupils, and I convinced myself that somehow, through no effort of my own, I had become a drug addict.
I found cute-sy Valentine gifts, from my mother to my father, tucked in her turtleneck drawer. Had they been a flop? Were they forever un-delivered? Did my parents still love each other?
My snooping led to stories in my head, which were nearly as interesting as those I read in the books I carried around. And speaking of books, I loved to snoop through my mom's Judith Krantz novels for the juicy parts.
My father's infectious disease textbooks led to hours of ogling images of rare skin conditions and elephantitis of certain body parts, some of which are still burned into my brain.
If that got boring, I always had the burgundy World Book Encyclopedias to read, which wasn't exactly snooping, but showed a curiosity I've yet to see in my kids. Should I start with "A" today, or get crazy and choose "Q"?
Sometimes I'd climb to the top of a closet and make a perch-like fort. I discovered lots of dust bunnies and a rather banal copy of a girly magazine in my brother's room. With the iconic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster thumbtacked to his ceiling, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
Snooping led me to find my mother's missing gold wedding band, which now graces my hand, far underneath the bathroom radiator.
When my mom would leave to run errands, my sister and I would go into full snooping mode. I remember the time she unwrapped and re-wrapped a Christmas present, later proclaiming to my Mom: "When I shake this, it feels like a white stuffed kitty with long hair." Hmmmm.
My mother hid our presents in the laundry room, the car, or even the neighbor's houses. Once Mom and I conspired to keep my sister from finding her big birthday present-- Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" album. We taped it to the inside wall of our pantry far above our heads.... but she still found it.
But now, I have a closet full of photo albums yet untouched by little hands. Am I crazy to think my kids should be interested enough to see Mom with big hair at a frat party and wonder, "What's in that big red cup?"
At Christmas time, the kids know the guest room is where I wrap presents, but they leave them unmolested.
And with the exception of my daughter nearly giving her dad a heart attack looking for a certain hygiene item in his bedside table drawer, the kids don't seem to open or close any drawers, preferring to leave things in ever-accessible piles throughout the house. Or, better yet, delivered to them by their gracious mother in a time of need.
Sometimes I think no one except me knows where anything is in this house, and no one cares.
Mario Brothers is fun, I suppose, as is travel soccer, but what about the lost art of spending time alone-- sifting, and sorting...and snooping?
What about you? Did you ever find anything interesting during a snooping expedition?