I have an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
Maybe it’s sadness. I think it’s sadness, and wistfulness, and, vaguely, alarm.
I’m going to write about what I saw while I was driving around my hometown today.
What I saw was – quite notably – nothing.
While I was trying to get my baby to fall asleep, I just spent over 45 minutes in my car, driving around neighborhood after neighborhood – neighborhoods that I grew up in and around; neighborhoods that I know are home to many, many families with young kids.
Neighborhoods that, on a summer day in the 80s, would have been teeming with life. Buzzing with undirected activity.
But I saw no kids, whatsoever, playing outside.
I did see one lone boy on a bicycle.
This was in close to an hour, entirely in residential neighborhoods.
It’s the middle of the day; it’s sunny and comfortable out here. 68 degrees right now. It’s a Saturday. Nobody is in school.
Since nobody is on the streets, I assume they are at organized sports, or nestled in their own houses. We had soccer practice this morning. And my kids spent time nestled too. I get it.
But at some point, I would hope, there would be some life on the street. A group of kids hanging out on a porch. Chalk on a sidewalk. Someone with hockey sticks outs. Anything resembling a childhood that feels free.
I saw lots and lots of basketball hoops on my drive. I saw tons of swingsets. I saw a table full of children’s toys, with a “Free” sign, sitting on a folding table outside a house.
But I did not see one kid playing, anywhere.
Not a single game of tag, or ball. No laughing. No kids that needed to move out of the street to let my car pass by.
I would have liked to have had to slow down to let some kids get out of the way.
As I drive around, my kids’ lullaby CD is playing an instrumental song. It sounds mournful to me, in this context of nothingness. It sounds like a eulogy to a childhood that has passed.
Like a eulogy to the way I grew up.
I know somewhere kids must be playing.
But not here, not today.
[…] I’ve been thinking about the nearly unrecognizable culture of parenting we have now from even a generation ago, when most of us c… and larger […]
[…] Likewise, immersive independent play for older children offers tremendous benefits. […]
[…] is a tightening of reigns that’s long been in process in America. A rope strangling the life out of childhood free play. A gasoline poured on the fire of the anxiety and depression levels in our […]