Plugged In or Tuned Out in Amish Country

Once, when I was about ten years old, my grandparents came to visit my family in State College, Pennsylvania where we lived. Afterwards, they brought my brother and me back to their house in Dayton, Kentucky right across the river from Cincinnati. They were excited to take us on a side trip through Amish country on the way.

Since the oldest settlement of Amish in the United States is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a drive through there guarantees coming across horse drawn buggies, white farmhouses with laundry flapping on clotheslines, and fruit and vegetable stands that also sell homemade pies and jams. I was happy to drive through Amish country, but after awhile was more interested in reading my book than keeping my eye for another buggy much to my grandmother’s displeasure.

Now that I’m traveling with my own 14 year-old, I can somewhat relate to how my grandmother felt.

This My Turn Essay by Lisa Segleman in this week’s Newsweek magazine addresses the road trip with kids issue, something that I’ve also written about in earlier posts. In Segelman’s account, everyone in her family was plugged into their own electronic devices, thus did very little to interact with each other while they traveled from New Jersey to Florida. I understood her feelings about not having anyone to interact with since everyone was busy interacting with their gadgets, but also wondered why no one said, “Unplug.”

On the other hand, perhaps part of the pleasure of a road trip is the coziness of being in a vehicle with family members without arguements. Still, whenever we go on trips with my daughter, we do tell her to take off the earphones from time to time to visit with us. And sometimes, she hands me her headphones so I can listen to her favorite songs. The only time I do this is on a road trip and I always feel great when I’m plugged in.

Colin Thomas snapped this picture of Bethany and posted it on Flickr. His comment said, she said, “You’re so annoying.” Yep, sounds about right. I don’t think Bethany is an adolescent though, but the sentiments are the same.