Maxfield's Mom Mom bought him a Snap-Circuits electronics project kit for his birthday. Using the resistors, capacitors, battery packs, motors and choke filters a kid can build all kinds of neat projects as long as he makes the right connections. Max and his Mom Mom discovered the Snap-Circuit toy at Henry's grandmother's house and Max's Mom Mom thought Max would enjoy one of his own.
Max's Mom Mom, my mother-in-law, is very close friends with Henry's Mom Mom. Henry is my best friend's son. Henry's Mom Mom is my best friend's mother-in-law. So my mother-in -law is friends with my best friend's mother-in-law. They live down the street from one another. Henry is also my Godson. Maxfield is also the Godson of Henry's dad. It is not as confusing as it sounds but it makes for an interesting grapevine. It is all how it is filtered.
"Johnny and the Mothers are playing 'Stompin at the Savoy' in Vermont tonight."
"Vermin's going to kill my brother at the Savoy theater tonight?"
"I didn't say that."
"No. But I know this grapevine."
Anyway, Henry told Max that one of the 300 projects in the kit was building a radio. Henry told Max that when he built his radio he was able to listen to the Phillies Game.
The other night I cam home from work and Max was working with his circuit kit. He was determined to build the radio by himself. He already succeeded in building the receiver and making a noise but was unable to tune the radio into a specific station. Somewhere on the board there was a connection missing. I looked over the plans, tweaked a line and showed Max the tuner which would filter and pinpoint the signals. Soon he was able to hear voices from the small plastic speaker.
"I want to hear the baseball game." Max said beaming.
I knew that he wanted, the next time he saw Henry, to be able to tell him that he too built a radio and listened to a game.
"Sorry Max, there are no games on yet." I said. "The season hasn't started."
Max continued to turn the tuner. He finally landed on a very clear signal from the local news radio station.
"What's this?" he said leaning in to hear the tinny voices and fake news ticker.
"It's the news Max."
"Hey Wyatt. " Max called into the other room, "Do you want to listen to the news with me?"
The two little boys sat at the kitchen table together listening to the news for about 10 minutes.
"How big is a tsunami?" Max asked clearly picking up on something said through the radio.
We already had a brief discussion about tidal waves and tsunamis a few days earlier when the events that happened in Japan first were unfolding. During that conversation I flashed back to memories of Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner discussing events and showing images of a jungle littered with bodies in the Jonestown Massacre, blindfolded and scared US hostages in Iran and large smoking reactors on Three Mile Island. Back then we only had 3 networks and a daily newspaper but I remember feeling inundated with the bad stories. None of it was filtered because it was the news. Or maybe it was filtered because it was the news. But I also recall being totally frightened by those stories, but that was also a time where at least once a month in our elementary school we held duck and cover drills in case the Soviets started bombing us. All of this scary stuff was happening in the real world, not to forget that with my overactive imagination, I was also terrified of alien abductions, Bigfoot, ghosts, the Hookman, and the dark.
We now live in a world where there is a constant flow of images and stories on cable TV and the Internet. I saw articles blaming the people of Japan for the earthquake. I saw videos and heard stories on Facebook and Twitter of people using God's punishment as an answer for the reason behind the tsunami. And as much as those videos and stories bother me, nothing was worse than various commentators and newscasters discussing the loss of life with so much indifference as if they were talking about a score in a football game. I felt inundated in the late 1970's I can only imagine what my kids must feel now.
I bookmarked some web pages with videos I considered safe for my kids to watch regarding the tsunami in Japan. I felt the need to filter the information they received. I want them to learn and be aware of the world but I don't want them afraid of it. When Max asked me how big a tsunami was we watched those videos together. Max and Wyatt were amazed and in awe of the strength of the water and amount of destruction it caused. They asked a few questions to which I had very little answers.
Mother Nature, acts of God (which I mean in the non religious, smiting or smoting way but more in the way to say things just happen) and Natural Disasters rarely have any answers. But making sure that kids have an understanding of what is happening in the world is all about how the information is filtered.
I wish more people filtered what they put up on Facebook or other internet sites and in the news. The world is a scarey enough place already with Bigfoot lurking about.