You can drive through residential neighborhoods and never see a single child out playing. We should worry about what this means for the future.
There are still kids in those neighborhoods to be sure; you can see them at the schools getting dropped off by their moms. Few kids seem to walk to school anymore. My old elementary school got rid of the bike racks and turned the enclosure into a garden.
Maybe it’s the phenomena of helicopter parenting. It’s not the cool helicoptering of Wagner and “Ride of the Valkyries” but the lame kind of Barney and songs about feelings.
These kids do nothing without their parents hovering over them – in fact, you hear of college kids referring to their parents as “their best friends.” Gag me.
I went back to my hometown on the San Francisco Peninsula over the Fourth of July. When I grew up there in the Seventies, before Silicon Valley, it was solidly middle class. We weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich. It was a big deal when my parents got a second car; everyone had a station wagon, invariably American made.
Kids were everywhere. We played games on the street – baseball, tag, army. We left in the morning and came home for dinner. There was a big woods behind our house and we’d disappear into it all day, returning with cuts, scrapes and the occasional gopher snake.
But today, nothing. The neighborhood has changed – the Fords and Dodges are now BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, and minivans replaced the wagons. I know there are kids there, but you never see them. Where are they? Lurking inside the million dollar houses? Doing what?
I went walking in those woods again. There was no sign anyone else does. A wonderland is just outside these kids’ backdoors and they never visit.
My own kids come to me and talk about “playdates,” as if childhood is supposed to be a set of pre-planned enrichment experiences instead of improvised entertainment. Can’t they just go over to their friend’s house and see if Kayden or Ashleigh or whoever can come out and play?
No, I’m told, it’s too dangerous in our affluent neighborhood. And if you look at the Meghan’s Law site for any neighborhood you’ll believe it. All these little flags pop up, each some form of registered sex offender. So, instead of driving these degenerates away, we conform and constrict our lives to accommodate their presence.
I asked a cop friend I served with in the Army if this was just paranoia. He said he wouldn’t let his kids play on the front yard unless he was out there with his Remington 870. That answered that.