Anyone connected to me on the book of face or the Twitters may often wonder just where the ideas that become statuses/tweets/blogs come from. Though my mother and I do not live together, we work for the same company in a tiny town, and she lives right around the corner from me, so we carpool.
20 minutes starting at 7:15-7:20ish in the morning and then again at 5:15 in the evening, 5 days weekly unless one of us is off for whatever reason… The conversations between she and I during those rides are usually enough to make me think of something to post somewhere at any given time.
Yesterday, the topic was 'just what in the hell IS it that kids do with their summers?'
I will start with how our summers went through elementary, middle and high school.
Elementary (K-5th grades):
School ends, we spend the summer days at my grandmother’s house. First week after school, mama drops us off on her way to work, we eat breakfast, go play OUTSIDE, come in for lunch, back OUTSIDE and then mama would come pick us up when she got off, about 5-6pm.
After that first week, and for the next 3-4, we were still dropped off and did breakfast, but instead of coming in for lunch, we’d spend the WHOLE day in the park. A “counselor” (volunteer for Parks & Rec department) would drop by with games and stuff, make note of who showed and yaddayaddayadda, we would spend the WHOLE day, from 8am-2pm in the park. Somewhere between 11 and 12, a truck came with free lunch – usually a small sammich, chips, piece of fruit and OJ. The particular park we were in was within eyeshot of Granny's house, so she never like looked for us or anything.
After that 3-4 weeks, my brother and I would take Granny’s lawn mower and knock on doors of houses with shaggy lawns and make money to buy toys and candy and such.
Having been occupied all summer, we went back to school wondering just WHERE in the fuck the summer went, because damned if we had time to remember it.
Middle (6-8th grades):
Still at Granny’s for one year, since we lived with her at the time, so this time there was no dropping off. 7th and 8th grades, we’d need to be dropped off again. Mornings, my brother and I are whisked away to day camps, usually something sports-related at the YMCA or a local college. After those programs (usually 1-3 weeks) ended, we were ALWAYS in someone’s basketball camp. Again, these were usually from 8am-early afternoons and we WERE fed.
[Phlip note – too bad I am only 5’8” and chubby now, because I am NICE with a basketball]
Afternoons, and when the camps were over it was back to the lawn mower thing. Now it was to buy music on cassette (who remembers THOSE), sneakers and video games (wow, only NOW mentioning those?!). Evenings would include at least one week of Vacation Bible School at the church (which I need to make a point of trying to go to this year).
For 3+ years, now, latch-key kids who can be left home alone in expectations that the house would still be there when she returned, we don’t have to go to granny’s unless we want to. If we want to, then we can walk, since it was only 3 miles.
[Phlip note – kid walks when we were young were fucking EPIC]
Just the same, and now 4 years removed from a 2-parent household, we took up the lawn mower out of necessity as much as supplement. Basketball camps gave way to one year of band camp, then back to one more basketball camp in 10th grade.
Then shit changed…
Age 16, summers were no longer necessarily about “fun,” in the classic sense of it. Now it is time to get a job, and the “fun” comes from the fact that when school is not in, you’re allowed to turn over full-time hours (and make full-time MONEY) on that job. I took full advantage.
I could have stopped chronicling this after the middle school years, because the time my brother and I were allowed to skip the camps to go to Atlanta for the summer before 8th grade was the last “kid” summer we had. After that, it was business.
I am left to wonder what in the hell it is that kids do with their summers these days. I mean, we didn’t have much growing up, and to that ends there was the park and the bonus of free lunch. Hell, even the lunch was not out of necessity, as that base was covered at home at least.
As kids, we spent EPIC amounts of time outdoors, came home only for food and water. At that, we only went indoors for food, the water hose yielded water just fine without getting yelled at for “letting all my damn air out!”. Between our friends and us, we’d complete a 9-inning baseball game, a football game (scored by 1 point per touchdown) to 12 and played basketball games to 16 until we either couldn’t stand anymore or someone got injured or into a fight.
Nearly everywhere we went, we went on foot or by bicycle.
EVERYONE could at least play the sport we were playing well enough to want to TRY to play.
Naturally, we did not know EVERYONE everywhere we were, so we were adjusted well enough to deal with strangers.
And back to my mother’s comment that led to the facebook status that led to this blog… “school ended Friday, how come these kids (cousins/nieces and such to me) are already saying ‘I’m bored, hit me up… were y’all that bored?’,” to which I explained “mama, we didn’t have TIME to be bored!”
I guess there is only so much Xbox to go around, and when that and the internets get boring, these kids have never learned HOW to play outside. I drive past basketball courts and parks with huge open fields in the summertime and I see chains on the goals and perfectly manicured grass. I think to myself “man, we’d have BEEN fucked that up by now”
Lemme explain: when parks and rec chains on a basketball goal are being met with a consistent enough jumpshot, they break, and grass being run and tackled on gets trampled.
Kids are socially inept, because it seems that the ONLY way they know to interact now are so impersonal that they know not how to respond when the time comes to actually talk to one another.
My brother’s son is in Karate and my sister’s kids, despite my niece headed to high school, will be similarly whisked away to the Boys & Girls club to get their asses out of the house. Ironic is that they now live 3 doors down from Granny, directly across the street from the street from that SAME park that we pretty much grew up in. In as much, my nieces and nephews are well-adjusted and can take “turn off the computer/Wii and go the fuck outside” without fear of them shooting up the house.
… and this, even though my niece is very much a girlie girl.
One day, I will have a kid or two of my own – with two as my maximum – and I am thankful that they will have cousins who are being raised as similarly to how we came up as current times allow, because damned if I have any faith in how 90% of the rest of people are bringing their kids up in front of the computer and tethered to the Xbox.
We were in better shape, possess (and still do) better problem solving skills, are generally street-smart, and are socially well-adjusted for our experiences.
Strange is how kids nowadays generally are largely out-of-shape, technology-dependent, lazy-assed zombies sometimes.
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