What Happened to Childhood?

Maybe it’s different where you live, but around here, we never see children playing outside. Never. Children of any age. No stickball, no softball, no basketball. No building castles in the sandbox. No play of any kind.

The only time you see them playing–if “playing” is the right word for it–is when they have full uniforms, sponsors, adult coaches, a scoreboard, and a mob of parents watching. If I had to trade my childhood for this, I’d hang myself.

The rest of the time, you don’t see them at all. Have they been packed off to summer school? Day camp or daycare? Or are they just confined to the house, either by their parents or by themselves, playing video games all day?

This state of affairs is unnatural, not to mention weird and creepy, and no good will come of it.

Meanwhile, I think I have found something that sheds light.

On my box of breakfast cereal, there’s a little mask that can be cut out and worn by a child. It comes with instructions. Get a load of this.

Step 1: With close adult supervision, cut along the dotted line…

What? “Close adult supervision”? To cut out a little piece of cardboard? How close?

Do you ever wonder if people are forgetting how to be human beings?

I sure do.

15 comments on “What Happened to Childhood?

  1. Lee, your comment that you would “hang yourself” is both inappropriate and untrue since as a Christian man you would not consider defiling your body, an image of God, in such a distasteful way. I think the expression simply rolled thoughtlessly off your keyboard which is a pity since you usually write so cogently and well.

    1. Michael, it was not intended to be taken literally. The expression is rhetorical. I am sure My Lord understands that.

  2. With close adult supervision, using somewhat blunt plastic scissors, and wearing chain mail or heavy leather gloves, cut along the dotted line. When that fails, go back to X Box, or TV cartoons.

  3. I know what you mean, Lee. My childhood resembled the Little Rascals.

    I think kids began to disappear as abortions took hold of this nation….maybe a coincidence. A pastor friend of mine wants me to ghostwrite a book with him entitled, “Textually Transmitted Disease.”
    I think the title says it all…

    I can’t wait to start on it…
    p.s. I just got started on “Miss Marple, A Caribbean Mystery”…love it and thanks for giving us the tip on these wonderful stories!

    1. I’ll let my pastor friend see your comments about being interested in the book…maybe that will speed him up somewhat…LOL

  4. My brother and sisters and I were always outside when we were younger. It was like we lived outside and occasionally visited the house 😉 We climbed trees and played crazy stories and made up games and built treehouses (with hammer and nails, without close adult supervision) and tried to build an airplane, and played on the swingset, nearly dug our way to China, ran around in the rain, made Christmas trees out of pinecones, played a game where Aslan had to escape from the Stone Table (yeah, true story; I think we kind of missed the point), rode our bikes all the time, and played cowboys and indians. I got a real bow and target arrows when I was ten that I used with no adult supervision, and I never got myself or anyone hurt with it. If we’d been on the computer all day for those childhood years, I don’t think we’d have had many fond memories. “Oh, yeah, remember when I beat my highscore on such-and-such?”
    In reality, we can be somewhere and say, “Remember when we were going on that adventure, and we packed toy soldiers, crackers and cheese, and were going to swing off through the trees like Tarzan?” “Remember when we tried to trick our neighbor into giving us all the firewood in her back yard?” “Remember how the One Ring and Gollum survived Mount Doom somehow and we had to go on a quest to re-destroy it?” “Remember the Climbing Tree?”
    Ok, sorry, that was a really long post! 😀

    1. Now that’s what childhood should be! These poor kids today are under virtual house arrest. What kind of passive, dependent, group-thinking, dull, timid adults will they grow up to be?

  5. It’s a sad state of affairs. Parents are supposed to supervise children directly at all times. It’s helping to make the next generation of functional idiots.

    1. The problem is sharply exacerbated by public school’s sort of children into age group classes, which turns peer-group approval into the most important thing in a child’s life.

      Remove the schools and kids grow up with their families and neighbors, which means they will often by around adults who love them and the supervision won’t be heavy-handed. And you won’t have them trying to score popularity points by getting into mischief. I can’t calculate how many bad things I did as a boy that I wouldn’t have done without the encouragement of other boys my age, all putting on a show for one another.

    2. I agree. Children are much better off when they are around children of other ages. One truly great thing about this is that older children will help the younger children to learn. It’s almost an instinct. By teaching younger children, they are reinforcing their own learning.

  6. In many places today, if children tried playing outside by themselves, they’d be confiscated (abducted?) by Children’s Services, and the parents would be brought up on charges of child endangerment. I’m not exaggerating. These things are actually happening.

  7. Fort Smith has a population of 83,000 and it is the second largest city in the State of Arkansas which is of good size geographically. Most of its 3 million residents live in small towns and communities. Kids run free in these towns, but in my city it is like Lee described, few children outside playing on their own. The school yards seem to be a hangout on the weekends for spontaneous, non-parental supervision.

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