I’ve been wondering lately, why we seem to be in such a hurry to make kids grow up. What got me thinking was a ‘sneak preview’ I saw of an upcoming show, Kid Nation. I can’t really say why but the whole concept aggravated me to no end. I kept carping at the television, as though it would listen to me and just stop it.
The basic idea of this show is to take a bunch of kids aged from 8 to 15, put them in a ghost town and see if they can create a community. I suppose on the face of it, it sounds kind of cool and innovative and all that stuff that television execs get worked up about. But to me, it sounds a little sad. Kids are supposed to be kids. This is their time to learn, have fun, have adventures, be care-free and just live – hopefully fully employing their amazing imaginations and creating some precious memories for when they are old farts like the rest of us.
Instead, we give them sex education (Obama thinks age 5 is about the right time for this), teach them about sexual orientation (Why Joey has two mommies), give them more homework than I ever had in high school, cell phones, their own phones, their own televisions, social security numbers, bank accounts, debit cards, designer clothes, start them in school before they can speak, pay big bucks to get them into the right preschool or in some cases pre-preschool, chauffer them everywhere they go, cervical vaccinations as early as age 9, $120 sneakers, highlights and manicures.
They have play dates instead of running through the neighborhood gathering up their pals for a romp at the old railroad station. They have nannies instead of babysitters. Are taught security codes for their homes. Can text message and surf the net like pros, but can’t seem to think. They are ensconsed in electronic paraphanelia, plugged in, zoned out, on antidepressants, have disorders that take up page upon page of the PDR are vast consumers of internet porn and worst of all, cynical.
Have you watched a sitcom lately? Have you noticed that the kids, regardless of age, are always played as all knowing, world-weary, cynical punsters. Mom and Dad clearly can’t teach them anything because they know it all. And apparently must educate their parents in the ways of the world because they are clueless.
Now, when I was a kid, I know we all pretended that our parents were clueless and truly didn’t understand how things really were. Yet, whenever something bad happened, whenever life kicked us in the teeth, whenever something scared the bageebers out of us, we made a beeline to Mom and Pop. They may have been un-hip, squares, not with it, uninformed on pop culture, but they knew stuff. They knew life. They had graduated from the school of hard knocks and they were there for a reason. We all knew this in our hearts.
Today’s kids? I’m not so sure. I look around and it’s not kids I see, but very short adults running around in their power suits, dragging their laptops, drinking their lattes and smoking their cigarettes. Ordering their parents about, who seem to go whichever way they are commanded. They smirk, the deride, they disrespect and snicker.
And I’m not mad so much as sympathetic. I mourn the loss of their innocence. I mourn the loss of their carefree, clueless days. I mourn the loss wild imaginings. Not for me, because I had them. But for them – those in such a hurry to grow up and the parents who are pushing them along.