Grocery shopping with my mom is one of the most distinct and lasting memories of my childhood. At first, it seems odd that such a common and routine activity would be so fondly remembered. However, when I consider that the grocery store was the place where I got to pick out my cereal of choice for the week, it makes much more sense. My eyes always lit up at the site of the colorful boxes of Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, and Lucky Charms. Nevertheless, my urges were always suppressed by my mother who, noticing my increasingly plump chest and stomach, would suggest that I choose between Rice Chex, Cheerios, or Kix. Little did she know that regardless of how healthy the cereal was, my eating four bowls per sitting was the reason I was getting fatter.
There were many other moments of excitement during the weekly grocery trip. I was always enchanted with the aquarium full of helpless lobsters, the adventure of riding in the front of the cart, and the intellectual challenge of guessing the total cost of the groceries. My sisters and I loved that guessing game; now I understand why my mother found it less interesting. As I grew older, I would take on more challenges; for example, I’d try to find half of the grocery list on my own. I suppose this was part of my developing sense of individuality, which is what made this task so exhilarating. I am sure that many students have similar memories of the grocery store and the wonderland contained within.
Unfortunately, I fear that the current generation of kids is being robbed of these great experiences. I first began to fear this when I noticed “The Eagle’s Nest” (not to be confused with the Ashland University or Nazi versions), a new addition to my hometown Giant Eagle. It is a daycare center for grocery shoppers. “The Eagle’s Nest” allows a parent to shop without the hassle of entertaining and pacifying their children. With the daycare center conviently located at the front of the store, parents can drop off their children and be assured that they will have a carefree shopping experience.
In a world of single working mothers, it is understandable that daycare has become a tragic necessity. However, do we need daycare service for occasions like grocery shopping when parents are away from work and able to bond with their children? As if it is not terrible enough that this institution denies children the same adventures as I enjoyed, it is full of computers, televisions, and video games. Not only are the children taken away from their parents, but they are also forced to make friends with machines rather than humans. Instead of reading a story or constructing building-block skyscrapers that would nurture the child’s imagination, they sit in front of screens that leave the brain untapped. Although there were some magazines in the room, they were stacked in the corner like some out-dated and ancient mode of entertainment. In modern society, it seems natural to allow children to play video games and watch SpongeBob cartoons. Why force them to utilize their mind or go shopping with their parents when they are perfectly happy with TV?
Maybe the reason that today’s children prefer TV is that they never had the opportunity to discover the joy and excitement of reading or writing outside of the rigid school environment. Maybe they prefer TV because that is all they have known. If allowed the opportunity to peruse the grocery store, I can guarantee that today’s children will find the same joys as I did. I wish that Giant Eagle and parents would stop selling children short. I wish that they would stop confining young minds to a world of television, internet, and Playstation. While video games have their place in life, it is certain that this place does not include the grocery store.
Luke Loboda is a senior from Hudson, Ohio, majoring in Integrated Social Studies Education (7-12).