conversation was taking place at work about the differences between
today’s youth and the kids of my generation (and earlier). I know
you’ll be stunned to hear this… but most of the people thought
that the kids of today are whiney pussies. (I’d put that in quotes,
but the actual quote isn’t quite as friendly. This pretty much
captures the sentiment.) And it’s worth noting that the feeling
expressed went beyond the inability of the newest generation to
walk to school, in a blinding rain, uphill… both ways.
pause here for a moment so you can fully absorb this stunning
more you think about it though, the more you understand that beyond
the funny name-calling aspects of it, there is definitely something
to the claim. The biggest example I’ll bring to you involves general
health. Have you heard about the studies and articles and theories
about how the youth of today are more likely to have problems
with allergies, illnesses and all sorts of maladies because they
don’t eat dirt? Or… more precisely… because everything is so clean,
the slightest presence of a germ sends their health into a tailspin.
think about water as an example.
I was younger and played outside, there was no such thing as bottled
water. Not in the current sense of the concept. We drank from
the hose… the same hose we had just picked up off of the ground…
the same hose we chided one friend for putting his lips against…
used for filling the pool and watering the garden… and laughed
when the neighborhood dog arrived and took his turn in line.
sure… when we biked over to the park to play tennis, occasionally
one of us would be smart enough to fill a thermos with water or
lemonade or whatever. But if we wiped the edge of it between drinks
and passing it around, it was usually with our sweaty t-shirts.
story short… we weren’t carrying individual water bottles. We
were kids playing and having fun.
I don’t see that today.
it’s computers and video games… kids playing inside instead of
in the neighborhood. Maybe it’s not. But it sure seems like everyone
assembling for massive rounds of hide and go seek has hidden and
a universal scale, I believe most of it is a generational thing
and the differences are pretty slight. For instance…
can go to my old home right now and get my father, blindfold him,
and bring him to any baseball field in the city I grew up in…
which happens to be the same city he grew up in. Then, I could
bring him from the car to within fifteen feet of the concession
stand. And… I guarantee you… that with ten minutes of taking the
blindfold off, he will have found at least one person he knows
personally, two people that are related to people he went to school
with, and, depending on which of the city high school teams is
playing, probably be able to identify at least four players on
the field by name.
short… he knows his community.
other day Terry, Justin and I stopped in a restaurant. As a waiter
approached the table, it turned out Justin knew him. They started
casually exchanging a few names… catching up on who was where
and doing what.
quite the same as identifying people 40 years down the road, but
the general concept holds true. Ghost in the graveyard… day long
pick up games of baseball in a cul de sac… whatever… even if Justin
didn’t have these neighborhood moments, he too knows something
of his community. He has been out in the world. And in several
ways… I suppose… he has found the hose on the ground for a drink
or two on a summer day.
Figuratively, if not literally.
point there being that generations differ in what kinds of events
and experiences they provide. And sheltered is not the specific
term I’d choose to use in saying that the kids of today are… as
previously established… whiney pussies. That evidence has to come
from some place else.
what is it?
never wore a helmet while riding a bike. And I rode it all over
the place. No ride to soccer practice? A new album I wanted, but
the parents not around to take me to the store? A friend calling
and no other way to get to his house? Grab the bike and off I
on where you look, you’ll find that seat belts in cars become
a pattern roughly around 1958 – 1960. It would be a few years
later before they become common, and a few years after that for
them to catch on as standard items for the rear seats. Effectively,
that makes my generation the first born with seat belts in automobiles.
My how the times have changed.
while I may look at safety helmets while riding a bike in the
neighborhood as wrong… just wrong… the seatbelt issue is probably
a better example of how safety equipment and protecting children
has improved over the years.
the reality is… even if I want to believe that kids today have
it easier… with their computers and their toys and their lack
of two mile hikes to and from school… I’m wondering if it’s really
just me, and my generation, needing to think of them as weaker
and untested. We all want more for our kids… while hoping they
face less pain as they get it.
the kids of today could use a bit more dirt in their diet. And
perhaps they could use more responsibility and more accountability
around the house. But the fact that they have it easier is a credit
to those that came before. And those things we encountered and
survived… years of bike riding without a helmet… may or may not
be important when considering how easy these kids really have