Kids today have lots of stuff we never had. More options might make life easier. More options don’t make life simpler. I don’t know where the prefect balance between easy and simple lies, but there are simple pleasures from my childhood I hope my boys can still experience:
When I played Little League, we won some and we lost some. Consequently, we felt happy after some games and dejected after others. Either way, a pat on the head, a soft ice cream cone, and an hour of swimming it off put the game into perspective as a minor piece of our lives.
Today, we seem to have taken competition to extremes. In one corner we have Ma and Pa Jockstrap. They can’t keep their spittle out of the umpire’s face because they will not allow anyone to stand in the way of Little Jimmy Jockstrap’s ascent into the Hall of Fame, regardless of Jimmy’s average skills or even his lukewarm desire to play the game.
In the other corner, handing out trophies to every kid in their zip code, are Mr. and Mrs. Overprotective, who fear that the loss of a T-ball game will rob their four-year-old of the confidence he needs to be just exactly as successful in life as all of his peers.
Nobody else can make you better than you are; nor will life allow you to be a winner every single day.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like it is no longer necessary to learn arithmetic in order to do math. I’ve never owned a graphic calculator; I don’t even know what they do. But I once was real friendly with graph paper, also with protractors and compasses. We didn’t have any math beyond basic calculus in my high school, but we could handle this (+) and this (-) and these (x), (÷) with pencil and paper, or on our bony little Hillbilly fingers. We didn’t need Excel to add columns for us.
Nowadays, if a kid can do basic addition in his head, they put him on Good Morning America so everybody can gawk at his freakish talent. I hope my sons learn basic arithmetic because I want to hang out on the set of The Today Show. Besides, (and I’m just doing the math here in my head) there may not be enough money in the back to school fund for graphic calculators.
Lime flavored stuff:
Back in the day, green lollipops were to die for. Whenever you put some kind of green candy into your mouth, you knew you would be rewarded with a robust lime flavor. There used to be things you could count on, and one of those was that green equaled lime.
Lime is the Latin of flavors now, a rare novelty to the tongues of the modern world. Some companies (I’m looking at you, Starburst) have cut green pieces out of their original lineups altogether. Others have replaced lime with off-green flavors like sour apple and watermelon – flavors that make a mockery of the color. I go out of my way to find popsicles that include lime among their flavors. I do it for my boys. Because a world without lime might as well be a world doused in strawberry syrup.
What things from your youth do you hope your children will experience?
I’d like my kids to jump from a high dive at least once as kids. All the public pools had them when I was a boy, but they’ve all been removed it looks like for the most part.
Also, as to the lime, duh! I’m sure your boys will be sucking down the good time lime before you even know it!
As a farm kid, I never knew about public pools. We had a crappy, 2nd-hand pool out back. My father traded a cow for it. (It didn’t come with magic beans.) We boys used to back up the cattle truck to the pool and jump off the top of the box. It was dangerous and stupid, and so much fun.
Is that where they are wasting all of our perfectly good limes these days?
I HATE it when every one gets a medal. Some things have to be earned. Excellence is something to be chased and won, not given away for free. Or we risk making it not exist. Right?
There is a bit of space between a piece of metal (or plastic) and an actual achievement, isn’t there?
Lime flavors!! Yes!!!
I remember sleeping at my cousin’s house every summer. They didn’t have air conditioning. I never remembered complaining about it. We would spend all day outside anyway. I would fall asleep waiting for the fan to make it’s round to me. Kids definitely need to play outside more and not outside with me telling them what to do.
We didn’t have A/C. It never crossed our minds. I don’t know if they had window fans back then or if they just didn’t work with our old casement windows. We took a regular box fan and strung it up in our bedroom window. It seemed like the most practical way to cool the room down.
Great post! All the simple things we enjoyed as kids are no longer an option for the children of today. They lucky even go outside these days because there’s so many ways of interacting with others by just using technology. Its a shame.
Makes you wonder if every generation thought these same things, or has technological advancement really made the disconnect so much bigger than it used to be?
Come to Brazil and you can have all the caipirinhas you want: stuffed full with vodka, ice, sugar and limes. It might not be great for your little ones, but you’ll enjoy it.
I had to Google caipirinhas, because we didn’t have them back on the farm. I was blissfully ignorant until I saw the picture on Wikipedia. Now I really really want one.
Great post, Scott. I always bring my husband back to the office to read your posts. He looks forward to them as much as I do. 🙂 Keep up the great work!
Thanks, Sandy. I like to think of it as fun for the whole family.
I hope my kids – the imaginary ones still trapped in my head – will have to earn their rewards. As a teacher I’m disgusted by the celebration of mediocrity. And I hope my little girl has Wonder Woman underwear. Now there’s a confidence builder.
Wonder Woman underwear and a great mom. Those two things will take her (when she becomes more than an image) everywhere she needs to go.
I am already way too familiar with the pro-spittle parents. They make me sad.
Just think of how the umpire must feel.
Great post! And I hope my kids get to play the original Monopoly, or Scrabble, or any game that requires them to sit still for an hour AND still enjoy it.
The great thing about traditional board games was that you could “accidentally” knock the board over when you were about to lose. I’m not sure how you do that with these electronic versions.