I have just caught an episode of HGTV’s new series “My Yard Goes Disney,” and I am horrified. I watched as a team of “Imagineers” transformed two adjoining suburban backyards (Grandma lives next door) into a theme park. There’s a giant sorcerer’s hat, an equally giant teapot, a little railroad that winds its way through the property, and immense metal sunflowers with photos on them. These are painted in glaring, comic book colors, and all of them are for two very young children and their parents, who, it seems, spend every waking leisure moment at Disney World.
So what’s wrong with that? I have a huge problem with turning everything into a theme park. I do understand that many of today’s children must be electronically stimulated every waking moment. They can’t even take a road trip without a DVD in the car. But what’s wrong with kids learning about REAL miracles – things like butterflies emerging from cocoons, and seeds sprouting and birds building amazing little nests? Why do they need a fake train when they could just walk around? And why a sorcerer’s hat instead of a tree house? Does everything have to be staged, phony and larger than life?
“It’s a dream come true,” said the mother. “I never ever imagined we’d have a yard this nice.”
Well, Mom, what will you do when your kids get sick of their miniature kingdom? It’ll happen sooner than you think. And what will they have learned from this experience? Nothing about growing their own food – or anything else about gardening, that’s for sure.