Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Mayor of Simpleton

I opted to work "out of the office" on Friday.  I did not take a day off per se.  When I headed south on Thursdsy night I brought a lot of work with me.  I did not get through all of it but I made a significant dent.  

While i was out and about Friday morning running some errands I found myself siting in northbound traffic on Route 71.  As I glanced to my right, I could see dozens of little children enjoying recess at their elementary school.  I actually rolled the front passenger window in my car down so that I could hear them laughing and playing.  I could not help but wonder if life ever gets any better than it is when we are a little kid, playing tag or soccer or Red Rover at recess. 

Technology and innovation are wondrous things.  To a point.  It seems as if every time I turn around I encounter a parent of a small child whose child's day is overflowing with organized activities, whether music lessons, language classes, or competitive sports.  It all feels as if it is too much. Does a nine-year-old really need a color-coded spreadsheet to keep track of all of his or her appointments?  I sure as hell hope not.  

I loved being a kid and I spent most of my childhood living in the middle of nowhere.  I spent an incredible amount of time by myself, which I loved.  I rode my bike, I went for walks, I read, and when I wanted to play sports I would play the part of both teams simultaneously - while doing the play-by-play.  When we moved to Neahanic Station I was thrilled.   I made friends with my across-the-street neighbor, Doug.  We played Wiffle ball, basketbsll, baseball, and football.  When we wanted to play any of the above with two on a team we recruited Bill and Dave, who lived up the road from us.  No leagues. No officials. No formal structure.  It was terrific. 

I worry that today we - perhaps with the best of intentions - are cheating children out of the chance to be children.  And I think it stinks.  Just because I am a cynical old curmudgeon at fifty does not mean I want a child to emulate me.  I want him or her to be goofy and silly and mesmerized by the world he or she is part of day-to-day.  

The way I once was and the way I wish I could be again.


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