Grand Theft Notebook – (MYoM – Part 25)

(This post is going to get me into so much trouble! Wait for it.)

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Dani the Art teacher called me last night to talk about the boys in my class. (There are five of them who are all in the vicinity of 13 years old.) She had a terrible time getting them interested in her art lessons. She gave them several options and got five flat out rejections. She asked them what they might be interested in doing instead and got almost no response. They agreed to think about it and make a list by the end of the school day. No list was made.

Two nights earlier, there had been a parents’ evening and the subject of internet/computer games became a surprisingly hot topic among the parents of these same five boys. It made me think about my own lessons with them and realize how much harder it had become to motivate them in recent weeks. To begin with, they were always tired. (As I know now, it is because a lot of them are playing late into the night.) Secondly, the only topics that really seem to light their fires and get them talking are all related to computers and games. Unfortunately I am completely uncool in this area. I can hardly understand, much less participate in, their discussions of . . . Grand Theft Call of Mind Warcraft Duty. Or whatever.

As Dani and I were talking about how to deal with this situation, I suggested she try to find something that is related to what we are learning about in other subjects – and right now that is inventors and inventions. A few of the boys have shown signs of interest, even intrigue. Suddenly I remembered a book that my brothers had made when we were kids. They had designed and drawn complex machines for various silly purposes like feeding the dog or catching a mouse. They taped their designs into a notebook and called them “The Inventions of the Great 3N Company”. I described the designs a little to Dani and that got her mind racing toward a whole new set of ideas.

After the call, it occurred to me that I had seen this notebook fairly recently and that it could very well be in my own house that very instant. I went rummaging through shelves and boxes and files, and . . . wahlah!

book

Something about this book was special enough for me to let it travel eastward across the Atlantic to Austria after one of my visits home. I suppose I might have asked my brothers first if I could have it, but, let’s face it, that is doubtful. I more likely stole it – or let’s be generous and say “appropriated” it.

I wandered around my house looking for other objects I had appropriated over the years. It turned out to be quite a collection. My father’s dog tags and his commemorative university graduation beer stein. A friendship bracelet with his and my mother’s names engraved into it – which dates back to their high school years in the 1940s. A paperweight that stood on my grandfather’s desk and some ceramic dogs always on display in my grandmother’s bedroom. Treasurestreasures, all of them. Things I visited and revisited in my childhood, things I stared at and played with. Things that somehow captured my imagination and meant something to me.

Now that I have confessed to my crimes, I can only hope that my siblings did some appropriating of their own over the years. Surely these can’t be the only objects of our shared upbringing. She says hopefully.

I wonder if my five computer-crazed school boys can notice and be fascinated by such simple, real objects in the world around them. Or conversely, if 50 years from now, they will have memories and associations with whatever they are experiencing while looking into a screen for hours on end.

Will they keep memories like these in little treasure boxes and feel nostalgia when they rediscover them decades later?

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18 thoughts on “Grand Theft Notebook – (MYoM – Part 25)

  1. ‘t is very strange indeed. My parents bought a PC, better yet the parts that in turn were assembled by my uncle – back in ’93 – I was 10 maybe 11 at the time. Today I see games of that time resurface, as some of them get a visual overhaul and are sold again, more for nostalgia and great story than their immersive qualities. Which put a thought in my mind – … were parentgenerations having similar concerns regarding the emergence of say – pulp fiction, futurists, sci-fi literature that are nowadays expressed about a degree of apathy and asocial behavior in leu of PC games/ internet p0rn / the hikkikomori issue? Likely so, very likely so, indeed. Or that aweful music, clothing, hairdo… 😉 ❤

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    1. I’m not generally hysterical about computer games etc. and I believe bouts of apathy and asocial behavior are absolutely normal for 13 year olds. I worry more about the sleep deficit than dangerous influences. Still! – Childhood has changed. I’m sure I wouldn’t trade childhoods with my school kids.

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  2. I LOVE THIS! I used to draw silly machines like this too. There’s an artist who did it in the 80s I think… If you could find that artist (think there were books of his work) then that might inspire them. I did it anyway but I remember doing it in art classes too!

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  3. Why not make the boys pack some meaningful things in a tin box or whatever, seal them and tell them to hide them away until they are 30 or 40 years old or just bury them for some later scientists?
    What do these kids carry in their pockets? Do they conserve some toys from their childhood? (Perhaps they are ashamed to tell…)
    Lately, I saw a blog of a mother taking one photo each day of her son’s pocket treasures. Loved it. It seemed so timeless, rubber bands, buttons, broken things, rubbish, papers… I can’t imagine these boys’ pockets are empty? That really would be alarming.

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    1. I’m going to use this idea – or a part of it anyway. (Thanks!) But on the funny side, it made me think of all the stuff I remove from pockets when I do laundry. I’m not sure what people 40 years from now would think of used tissues, broken golf tees, and crumpled notes beginning with “Please excuse my daughter from school today.” 🙂

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  4. Oh, my god, that book! What a treasure! Dorothy appropriated everything worth keeping and whenever I said, “Hey, that’s mine”, she’d convince me it couldn’t be mine because, “You tore everything up”. I’ve been had.

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    1. I suppose being the eleventh child, the pickings were slim among family treasures. On the other hand, the youngest child (the last one to live at home) has certain advantages when it comes to appropriating.

      Would you like me to have a little talk with Dorothy?

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  5. Though I have always been fascinated by Computers and have spent the majority of my life in Information Technologies Computer and Network Support, I have (and still do) find Computer Gaming to be a Colossal Waste of neurological Space and Time. It is not Discovery of anything but somebody Else’s Programmed Behavior.
    And as one of your Siblings, I would be remiss not to admit to an “Appropriate” amount of Treasure stashing. These are contained mainly in a Wood Strong Box marked “Memorabilia”, and I am sure it contains many Comfort Items I have collected and found along my Path. Perhaps so many that my Wife considers it Hoarding. 🙂

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  6. Love the notebook, esp that last picture. It looks like it could be a Ping-Pong pantooka from a Dr Seuss book, or maybe the Mousetrap game we had when we were kids. So creative. We used to play a game at my (boring) Grandmother’s house. We’d hide something (like a spoon or a toy) and make a treasure hunt of notes to find it, like “go to the barn door, look for note” and that note would say “go to the well pump, look for note” and so on. We were pretty good at entertaining ourselves.

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  7. What a charming notebook to have. I can see why you stole it.
    When my daughter was small we used to play a game where we’d design and then ‘pitch’ to each other an invention of some sort, a bit like Dragons Den. The one we liked best was the ‘Confuse-A-Baby’ which was a seat-based contraption with all sorts of strange distractions to make sure a baby was stunned into silence most of the time. I remember we fell about laughing. I doubt we kept the paper but she reminded me of it only the other day – and she is now 16!

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