Friday, 21 January 2011

There are fairies at the bottom of our garden using an iPad – Dianne Hofmeyr

In the chaos of a summer’s day (I’m in the southern hemisphere right now) with hoards of people washing up from the beach, raiding my fridge for icy watermelon and cold beers and whatever else summer crowds need to refuel, we suddenly noticed we were minus a few little girls.

A few moments of mild panic. Weren’t they dressing up somewhere? Eating lunch out in the garden? Or had they wandered back along the boardwalk to the beach?

But no! They were found! All dressed up and sitting at the bottom of our garden – four fairies in an African boma… that stick-like pallisade which keeps wild animals away, except in our garden its mostly for atmosphere and communing with nature and spotting the odd mongoose, puffadder or bright green boomslang (both highly poisonous snakes) lurking between the fynbos. Not too many leopards and elephants here next to the coast.

Anyway here they were… all found… four little fairies of five and under, sitting very quietly in a row. Quite modern little fairies in fact, despite the garb of school shoes and socks on one of them. They had set up an iPad on a stump of wood. And guess what they were watching?
Charlie and Lola. And what particular Charlie and Lola story? The one with Lola and her friend Lotta crawling around her bedroom on all fours playing tigers and elephants in a jungle.

For a moment I felt slightly crushed. Here they were from around the world, from Bermuda and Seoul and London, in Africa with ‘real’ nature around them, glued to an iPad. Why weren’t they crawling around playing their own jungle adventures? What was wrong with these children? Did they have no imagination?

I had to pull myself up sharply. To decry that moment of intense interaction with an iPad I would equally be decrying any moment of intense interaction with a book. To prove the point I later found my granddaughter reading to her doll.

The fairies at the bottom of our garden watching an iPad were just modern little girls feeding their imagination for another time and another day, whether from paper or digitally, what did it matter.


karen ball said...

So cute! You're quite right, Dianne. I suspect we're going to discover many lovely ways in which books and technology interact in the future.

Martin H. said...

Our four year old granddaughter has been watching The lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, recently. She's completely involved in the story. When the movie has finished, she sets about re-enacting her favourite parts, casting various dolls in a world of invention. I agree with your line, "..feeding their imagination for another time and another day, whether from paper or digitally.."

Andrew Strong said...

So true! The first time I took my children to London, I hired a black cab to take us on a tour of the sites. As we rumbled past Westminster and along down the Mall, I was excitedly trying to draw their attention to Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace etc. The cab, to my dismay, had a dvd player. "Dad, sssh," my son said, wagging a finger, 'The Mighty Boosh' is on."

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I'm going down to the beach to draw myself a sand picture Martin. And taking up your comment Andrew, my husband has just read 'Moon Dust' an account of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon. Apparently when a live screening of the astronauts on one of their missions was shown in place of the normal slot of a space odyssey TV drama, there was a national outcry from the viewers.
But in the end it was the digital aspect 'in the wilds' of my fairies and their total unawareness of this being an oddity that I found refreshing.

Penny Dolan said...

A wonderful moment of observation and such sweet pictures, so thank you. Hope you are having a wonderful time.