Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Times Change
by James Glaser
August 6, 2010
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Do you think your kids are going to have a better life than you did? I don't. I believe we are the first generation of Americans who have even thought about that. Every generation before us has just assumed that the next generation would have it better. What changed?

Well, for starters, we are passing on an incredible debt we expect our children to pay, but in the back of our minds, we know that not only will our children not be able to pay this debt down, but also that much of it will be passed down to our grandchildren.

Another thing—Education. Do you believe that our children and grandchildren are getting as good of an education as we did? I don't. Oh, the best students get a fabulous education, and they will be able to do wonders with technology, but will they be able to interact with each other? Do you know that many grade schools no longer have recess? Kids don't get to play with other kids. After school is the same. Parents are afraid to let their kids run around on their own. Why? There are too many goofballs out there waiting to prey on them.

I don't have proof of this, but I believe that my Father's generation dealt way more harshly with anyone who hurt children, and they only got to hurt kids one time. Others who were thinking perverted thoughts knew what would happen to them if they acted on their thoughts, and because of that, I and my friends were much safer than the children of today. Today, we try and help the perverts, and let then live in the community. Check it out on Google and see how many child molesters live in your neighborhood. It is frightening. That is a big reason why you don't see kids playing in your neighborhood. Parents are afraid to let their kids out of their sight.

Heck, my whole generation was out playing every afternoon and early evening during the school year and all summer. We only went home to refuel with some food. In school we learned the basics, and there were no standardized tests the teacher had to prepare us for all year long. America flourished with the education we received.

I can't remember homework in grade school. Yeah, I had to study for spelling tests, and early on my mom helped with multiplication tables, but there was no real home work on a regular basis. After school we played, or we cut the grass or shoveled sidewalks. Nobody in my neighborhood had a lawn service. Kids did that kind of work to make money. They could do that because they had the time.

Today's kids have little time of their own. If they do play sports, it is organized, and parents take them to and from practice and games. When I grew up I could tell my mom in the morning that I was going to the park, and she would say "You be careful and come home for lunch." We didn't have cell phones. The park didn't have anyone working there except the ground crew. Kids made up their own games and their own rules. You know what? We had a ball. You met new kids, you made new friends, and that, my friends, was socialization. It didn't matter their color or their religion. You were just all kids doing stuff, without adults telling you what to do. It was good for us.

Today's kids have all the equipment and safety stuff, adults to watch over them, uniforms, and rules. Lots of rules. Today, kids don't have to think for themselves because there is an adult there to think for them.

I actually feel sorry for today's kids. Here we are in America, and our children have no freedom. They can't make up their own games and their own rules. They can't play kickball in the street or live with no fear.

Today's kids' lives are filled with school, homework, soccer or baseball leagues that are run by coaches, with a gaggle of adult parents watching every move they make. It is sad.

It is also sad to know that the kids you see today are not going to have near the life, or freedom, or the right to make their own decisions like we had. And when they become adults, the government is going to control way more of their every waking moment than it controls us now.

Since I moved to the South, I have lost touch with the younger generation. Kids in the South are invisible. You don't see them on the streets, you don't see them in the parks, and you don't see them on the playgrounds.

High school kids don't go door to door selling things to get money for a class trip or for scouts. You don't read about church youth activities. Like I said, kids in the South are invisible. That's a shame, because it hurts the whole community. I guess it doesn't take a village any more.

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