America’s War on Kids — Jeffrey Earl Warren

 

What is it with today’s attitude towards kids? Why have we adults turned against them? What did they ever do to us?

A while back, the unelected tree committee in our small town was raising a fuss about how the new skateboard park was going to take out a few scraggly trees in a city-owned park.

A number of letters appeared in the local paper — all on the side of the trees, none on the side of the kids. A few years ago, neighbors who lived near the elementary school (yet sent their own kids out of town to private schools) fought the building of the Boys and Girls Club on school property.

Several years before that, neighbors complained that the new gym at the middle school was too big for a small town (Little did they know that large gyms are a staple of small towns up and down the state). Such is the state of our union today.

The good folks of my town of St. Helena, Calif., are hardly alone. Not long ago, there was a national story about some kids in Greenwich, Conn., who transformed a vacant lot into a wiffle ball field. They cleaned up the garbage, cut the weeds, cleared the poison oak, installed and painted a green fence (in homage to Fenway Park), put in a flag pole, and turned useless, wasted space into a paradise for all the neighborhood kids.

For those of you raised only on iPods, wiffle ball is baseball played with a plastic ball and a hollow plastic bat. It is the perfect summer game for after-dinner-until-darkness-falls fun. Because the ball can’t travel far, it is tailor-made for backyards and vacant lots.

Once upon a time, each summer in our neighborhood, sidewalks were littered with bicycles as we peddled over to a vacant lot after dinner to play some four-on-five or seven-on-eight wiffle ball. (If we didn’t have enough players, right field was an automatic out—unless you were hitting left-handed, which we often did, just because we could get away with that in wiffle ball.)

No doubt we were noisy. No doubt the air was filled with the shrieks of happy kids. Yet we never heard one complaint.

The New York Times reported a Greenwich neighbor as saying, “If I come home at six at night after working all day, I want peace and quiet.” That gal would feel right at home in today’s St. Helena. She’d have lots of friends—especially among those against the skateboard park, and those who fought to minimize the size of the Boys and Girls Club gym—noise and traffic, you know.

Like those folks, she got a lawyer. They’re going to kill the wiffle ball field—or at least regulate it. After all, the property’s worth $1.2 million and there are drainage, traffic, and — surprise, surprise — tree concerns.

Notice how the price of the lot was mentioned in the article, as well as drainage and trees? Is there a theme here?

Both St. Helena and Greenwich are affluent communities. This is not a new phenomenon, but there is an ugly correlation between affluence, environmentalism, and devaluing children in our world.

Neighborhoods have never been havens for peace and quiet. Neighborhoods are full of life. They are messy because life is messy. They are noisy.

Car engines rev up early in the morning. Parties go into the night. Garbage trucks crack the pre-dawn silence. Dogs bark, cats meow. Did I mention blowers and mowers?

Neighborhood living is getting your windshield cracked by an errant baseball and having kids steal your tomatoes to throw on Halloween.

Ideally, living in a neighborhood means being forced to creep down the street in your car, due to a kickball game or bikes humming with playing cards in their spokes. It’s the smell of barbecues in the summer and aromatic fires in the winter. It’s losing boards on your fence where kids crawl through and seeing your lawn torn up by endless “kick the can” games. It’s dogs leaving calling cards on your lawn and hearing the constant thump of a basketball below a driveway hoop. It’s kids selling lemonade and knocking on your door for endless donations. It’s the hum of roller skates, the ring of bicycle bells, the honking horns from lazy teens who won’t go to the door, and the summer shouts of “Olly olly oxen free” or “Marco Polo” from backyard pools.

Neighborhoods have never been about peace and quiet. Cemeteries are quiet. Neighborhoods are about life. They’re about families. They’re about kids. And, with any luck, they are noisier than hell. It’s music to one’s ears—at least ‘twas once thus.

 

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Jeffrey Earl Warren: What did they ever do to us?

    They live better than we do, the little stinkers.

    I’d like kids a lot more if they’d get a freakin’ job!

    • #1
  2. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I told this story on a Ricochet FB post.

    On one of my trips to Urgent Care with one of the kids, the doc looked at me over his glasses and said, “Back so soon, Mrs Yenny? ”

    I was in no mood, having just received one of the scarier calls in my life. Son #2 had taken a header off his bike, stood up and surveyed the damage to his torso and promptly feinted. Someone dragged him out of the street and waited with him.  He was ready to call 911 when son#2 came to and provided my phone number. 

    I snapped at the doctor, “Every time you doctors open your mouths you say kids should be spending more time outdoors. News flash, this is what happens outdoors. Make up your (really bad word)ing mind.”

    Parenting isn’t for wimps, but it would be a lot easier if the other adults in society were at least on our side.

    • #2
  3. Salamandyr Inactive
    Salamandyr
    @Salamandyr

    Annefy,
    That’s my favorite story of the day.  Condolences for the scare, but good on your for raising a proper rowdy boy (and giving the doctor a little bit to think about !)

    • #3
  4. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I wouldn’t just confine it to Progressive elements either.  Even confessional Christians have congregations that drive families with kids away.  No matter how many times the elders remind them of Mark 10:13-15 — or the passages in Matthew or Luke — some older folks seem to think absolute quiet is their right…at all times. 

    It’s our church, not a crypt. 

    • #4
  5. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    About a year before my Dad passed from Parkinson’s, I took him out to Home Depot mostly to get him out of the house and to a place that wasn’t a Dr’s office.  We shopped a bit then went to McDonald’s for lunch.  Again, mostly for the change.  There were a dozen kids playing and screaming and having a great time.  I asked Dad if he wanted to move to a quieter area.  He said no, he just wanted to listen to the kids play.  He really liked little kids.  He didn’t see many of them in the retirement community where he lived.

    • #5
  6. concerned citizen Member
    concerned citizen
    @

    I was in the frozen foods section at Walmart yesterday.   As I was pondering which frozen vegetables to buy, two little boys were gleefully racing each other up and down the aisle — over and over and over again.  Running, squealing with delight.   Two little boys just enjoying being little boys.   It put a big smile on my face!

    • #6
  7. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    That sounds terrible.  I want to move as far away from that as possible.  A log cabin in the woods with the worlds fastest internet.

    • #7
  8. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    I like the post and all the comments.
    When I take my dad someplace or just for a drive he always asks, “Where are the people?!”

    • #8
  9. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I’m afraid that’s only the beginning of the war on kids.  In addition we have Common Core, “anti-bullying” legislation, legalized drugs that are going to ruin a lot of young lives and a whole lot of other lefty abominations.

    • #9
  10. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Fricosis Guy:

    I wouldn’t just confine it to Progressive elements either. Even confessional Christians have congregations that drive families with kids away. No matter how many times the elders remind them of Mark 10:13-15 — or the passages in Matthew or Luke — some older folks seem to think absolute quiet is their right…at all times.

    It’s our church, not a crypt.

     We are blessed to have a priest who is one of 10 children. He had the large crying room converted to a confessional, and a small room in the back converted into a crying room. The vestibule is large, and parents take their kids there when they get squirmy (the kids not the parents). There is kid chatter and crying all over the place, and you can tell that it is music to father’s ears.

    • #10
  11. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Fricosis Guy:

    I wouldn’t just confine it to Progressive elements either. Even confessional Christians have congregations that drive families with kids away. No matter how many times the elders remind them of Mark 10:13-15 — or the passages in Matthew or Luke — some older folks seem to think absolute quiet is their right…at all times.

    It’s our church, not a crypt.

    . . .and parents take their kids there when they get squirmy (the kids not the parents). . .

     And when the parents do get squirmy?

    • #11
  12. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    Fricosis Guy:

    I wouldn’t just confine it to Progressive elements either. Even confessional Christians have congregations that drive families with kids away. No matter how many times the elders remind them of Mark 10:13-15 — or the passages in Matthew or Luke — some older folks seem to think absolute quiet is their right…at all times.

    It’s our church, not a crypt.

     Yep I am not saying kids need to get the same amount spent per head has adults do. But when you spend 6 or 7 times more per adult and two or three times more per head on Teenagers there is something wrong with how you are budgeting your priorities in church.

    No wonder’s why many churches have a hard time keeping  adults that grew up in church. Kids might not be able to articulate it even as adults but they knew as kids subconsciously  when an organization and people do not think they are important.

    I personally love it when I drive home and see kids playing in the street. My 5o or 60 unit neighborhood must have an average of at least one kid per house if not more.

    • #12
  13. Dave_L Inactive
    Dave_L
    @Dave-L

    Mike Rapkoch:

    Fricosis Guy:

    It’s our church, not a crypt.

    We are blessed to have a priest who is one of 10 children. He had the large crying room converted to a confessional, and a small room in the back converted into a crying room. The vestibule is large, and parents take their kids there when they get squirmy (the kids not the parents). There is kid chatter and crying all over the place, and you can tell that it is music to father’s ears.

     Our Latin Mass is well-attended by large families.  It’s a pleasure to attend Mass w/ 25-40 kids who are quiet as mice during the rite…then turn into absolute hellions, chasing each other, roughhousing, at the reception afterward!

    • #13
  14. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    I couldn’t agree more, Jeffrey!  As someone who valued vicarious experiences as a kid, I loved watching siblings and friends raise a little physical Cain-and- holy-Abel.

    • #14
  15. user_245883 Member
    user_245883
    @DanCampbell

    I was a feral child raised by wolves in the 60s and early 70s.  Home was the place where I ate dinner, did my homework, and slept.  All other times I was out roaming on my bike with my friends.  We played ball in the street, we played army, we did all the idyllic childhood outdoor things.  Now I can walk my dog two miles through my neighborhood on a summer evening and not see a single kid outside playing.

    • #15
  16. Virginia Farmboy Member
    Virginia Farmboy
    @

    Brian Clendinen:

    Fricosis Guy:

    No wonder’s why many churches have a hard time keeping adults that grew up in church. Kids might not be able to articulate it even as adults but they knew as kids subconsciously when an organization and people do not think they are important.

    I think your spot on with this. The current church I attend has neglected their various youth groups for about a decade now, and are still shocked why the kids don’t come back after graduating college. I currently help out with the college group and its always an uphill battle. Whereas the group used to have multiple fellowship trips every year were lucky if we can squeeze 2 out of the budget. 

    People try to console themselves saying the kids leave for another church because we’re just too conservative for their taste. Really its that for the past few years their experience is that unless the church needed cheap labor for some activity they couldn’t care less about them.

    • #16
  17. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This is for Annefy:  

    Way back when, when I was about seven, we lived in a new “subdivision,” and all of us boomer kids in the neighborhood played kickball in the street all late afternoon, until dark.  Sometime in July I had acquired two skinned knees.  My knees were really a mess.  The doctor said they looked like hamburg.  The messes even had gravel in them.  My poor mother.  Anyway, the doctor fixed them up and piled the bandages up high on them.  My mother told me I could sit on the chaise lounge on the patio out back, as long as I didn’t move from there.  My mother and the doctor were really firm about this:  I was not to move from this chair.  

    For hours and hours I sat there being really good (or was it several seconds?).  Then  I heard my friends playing kickball.  I was good for a really really long time (or was it several seconds?).  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I jumped up and ran–nervously, of course–to join my friends in kickball.  And all I remember after that is the curb I tripped over. 

    • #17
  18. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    MarciN:

    This is for Annefy:

    Way back when, when I was about seven, we lived in a new “subdivision,” and all of us boomer kids in the neighborhood played kickball in the street all late afternoon, until dark. Sometime in July I had acquired two skinned knees. My knees were really a mess. The doctor said they looked like hamburg. The messes even had gravel in them. My poor mother. Anyway, the doctor fixed them up and piled the bandages up high on them. My mother told me I could sit on the chaise lounge on the patio out back, as long as I didn’t move from there. My mother and the doctor were really firm about this: I was not to move from this chair.

    For hours and hours I sat there being really good (or was it several seconds?). Then I heard my friends playing kickball. I was good for a really really long time (or was it several seconds?). Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped up and ran–nervously, of course–to join my friends in kickball. And all I remember after that is the curb I tripped over.

     Great point.  Do kids even get skinned knees anymore?  They were epidemic in our day.

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Jeffrey Earl Warren: Do kids even get skinned knees anymore? They were epidemic in our day.

    When I was a kid I was allowed to roam free, and yet my mother is way over-protective when she babysits my sisters’ kids.

    Example: So I was at my parents’ house one day, and mom happened to be babysitting my niece. My niece and I were playing in the yard, running around, yadda yadda yadda.  My niece tripped and fell at one point and cut her lip a bit.  Not a problem.  She didn’t even really notice.  Then my mom looked out the window and saw the little bit of blood on the lip. Mom ran outside in hysteria over the “injury”, which scared my niece who then started to cry “because of the cut”.

    It was really weird, because mom never would have reacted that way when I was a kid.

    (It also illustrated to me how kids alter their behaviour due to the reactions of the adults around them.)

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Brian Clendinen: Kids might not be able to articulate it even as adults but they knew as kids subconsciously when an organization and people do not think they are important.

    Nothing gets a person into a church better than the knowledge that they are valued there, and nothing gets them to leave faster than the impression that the church sees them as surplus to requirements.

    • #20
  21. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    @Misthiocracy: I’ve had that experience a couple of times – watching my kid take a header and then immediately looking at me (or the closest adult) for a reaction.

    I had an interesting experience when son #1 feinted in church one morning. He was sitting with his class in front; I was joining him and his brother on a field trip that morning and was sitting in back.

    I heard a kid go down, peaked down the aisle and didn’t recognize the shirt color, so remained in my seat. Quite a few minutes later a mom came to the back and told me it was my kid. I found an adult to help, got him outside to the fresh air and waited for the ambulance. EMTs arrived, I explained the situation and off to the hospital (… again)

    I ran into the EMT later in the emergency room; he hadn’t realized it was my kid who passed out. He thought I was a bystander. He actually approached a nurse (who happened to be a friend) with concern due to my lack of panic.

    She explained that as a mother of 4 this wasn’t my first rodeo.

    • #21
  22. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    MarciN:

    This is for Annefy:

    For hours and hours I sat there being really good (or was it several seconds?). Then I heard my friends playing kickball. I was good for a really really long time (or was it several seconds?). Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped up and ran–nervously, of course–to join my friends in kickball. And all I remember after that is the curb I tripped over.

     I love it! You sound like one of mine. (man, this thread is fast becoming confessions of what a lousy mother Annefy is …)

    The baby (at around 5) and a brother were wrestling … the baby took at knee to the chin and bit his tongue halfway off.

    Grabbed all four kids, called my husband to meet us at the emergency room. He grabbed his mom (what a trooper she was) and they met us there. Poor kid ended up with quite a few stitches; it took 2 nurses holding his tongue and a doc to do the stitching.

    Grandma had bought the kids some corn nuts at the vending machine. The baby ate a bag on the way home before I knew what he was doing.

    • #22
  23. PracticalMary Member
    PracticalMary
    @

    Let’s not forget little kids and toddlers who commit felonies.

    • #23

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