Paul Parillo The kids aren't alright

It’s common to hear people talk about the old days with a much greater fondness than that of current times. “Back in my day, we never had no video games, if we wanted to have fun, my pops with throw us out of the house and tell everyone to play with sticks and rocks in the backyard. And you know what - we had a great time!” It is a sweet sentiment, and no doubt there are advantages to running around the house as opposed to sitting inside. 

I wouldn’t presume to suggest that the “back in my day” argument has much validity because after all, it’s too relative and bogged down by nostalgia. But there is one commonality that seems to prove a reoccurring instance in every generation. It is the idea that kids are quickly becoming pussies (not the colloquial term for vagina – although, how fun would that be!).

It begins from how children are reared at the beginning stages of life and then into the current abominable grasp of elementary school and extracurricular activities. At the beginning, as the predictable generational trends follow suit (for example – a generation of distant parents breed children who, when they have children of their own, are over-bearing – and vice versa etc - an “oppositional complex” of sorts) we see that most of these well-intentioned parents are hell-bent on keeping their precious children in a proverbial bubble for protection. And with their influence on school reform and the activities outside of school, the same methods of protection (physically, mentally, and spiritually) are enacted.

Many of the games and sports of our youth have been drastically altered or removed to better suit the wants and desires of the parents (again, who are also represented and backed by the administration of such outfits responsible for implementation). Remember Tag? Hide and Seek? British Bulldog? Red Rover - etc etc. These fun and important childhood games have all, in most cases, been removed from recess activities for fear of injury and unfairness. Basketball nets have been removed, playgrounds have been baby-proofed, and almost all forms of competition have been eliminated to appease the overly protected and carefully monitored youth of our time. More recently, certain sports leagues have even stopped keeping score to eliminate the feeling of inadequacy associated with the terms “winning” and “losing”.

Children need to get messy, they need to scrap their knees, get into trouble and feel proud about deserving a win after working hard – and conversely recognizing loss as a means to get back up to improve and try again. A child can’t appreciate and learn leadership and teamwork when there’s nothing to attain.

Have you ever read H.G Wells’ “The Time Machine”? (Not a spoiler) The main character discovers a race of humans in the future who have managed to create a self-sustaining environment, void of confrontation, hard work and success. As a result, they become immaculate and as precious as stained glass. Ultimately purposeless and unnecessary, the beings live out their days in utter ignorance and bliss.

It’s a frightening look into the future where all of human instinct has been removed for sake of safety. Hopefully it remains just a product of the oppositional complex – something that can at least, for now, be predicted and countered in an accurately balanced fashion.

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