It was me, three 6-year-olds, a 4-year-old and a radio dial.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Find what you need in our Weekend Entertainment Guide newsletter.
Yes, an actual dial. No buttons or digital displays on this baby. I bought the small reproduction 1930s wooden table radio years ago and I use it in my kitchen. I twist the knob to turn it on every day without much thought, but it tends to spark interest for others who visit.
That's what happened recently when my two youngest children had their friends, Stephen and Daniel, sleep over. Stephen had finished up breakfast when the relic caught his eye. He began exploring the three knobs — your basic volume, AM/FM and tuner. Within seconds, my usual settings of quiet background music gave way to the blaring tunes of Dutch rock band Golden Earring hollering, " ... when the bullet hits the bone."
I presume the rest of the lyrics might be inappropriate, but it's OK, because besides that phrase and the title of the song, none of us really knew what they were saying. We were too busy rocking out. Each of us had a kitchen implement repurposed as a mic, a guitar or a drumstick, and we all had a raucous move or two to show off.
When that was over, everyone got a turn at the radio helm. Daniel dialed in Earth, Wind and Fire and got us boogying down to "Let's Groove." My daughter landed some Vivaldi and everyone danced a ballet of sorts. My son unearthed a country anthem and declared that all his rowdy friends were coming over that night. Then it was Stephen's turn again.
"Look, Miss Alicia! Look at this song!" he'd shout as he dialed up another ditty.
Wow, I thought. Who needs the Wii?
For that matter, who needs any of those new-fangled, over-priced machines and devices that have become a societal norm? Most of them ultimately seem to leave kids with "brain drain," a condition characterized by red, glazed over eyes and thoughtless, annoying behavior.
This rediscovery of the radio dial was a fabulous about-face. The children were mesmerized. If we'd rolled upon a fireside chat, I think they might have sat through it just for the novel simplicity of it.
Creative juices flowing, they headed outside to play. Within moments, they were back in requesting provisions of scissors, yarn and an old sheet. I didn't know what kind of adventure they were embarking upon, but when they shed their shoes and dug boots from the crate full of footwear in the cellar, I knew it must be big.
I looked out the kitchen window to see a diligent workforce of little people clear-cutting limbs from the bottom of a lofty pine to create a hideout. Hours later, they sat inside an impressive little den. My daughter pointed out a dainty pine wreath she'd crafted and hung for a homey feel.
And how could I forget their pet worm.
"We put ';tree things' on him for his house," they said. "He'll stand there and dig in the dirt and find his friends."
It was so much better than a video game. And such a great reminder to look with fresh eyes at what is right under my nose.
Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.