Kids today are, apparently, the most delicate and coddled kids in history. Excerpt:
One day last year, a citizen on a prairie path in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst came upon a teen boy chopping wood. Not a body. Just some already-fallen branches. Nonetheless, the onlooker called the cops.
Officers interrogated the boy, who said he was trying to build a fort for himself and his friends. A local news site reports the police then “took the tools for safekeeping to be returned to the boy’s parents.”
Elsewhere in America, preschoolers at the Learning Collaborative in Charlotte, North Carolina, were thrilled to receive a set of gently used playground equipment. But the kids soon found out they would not be allowed to use it, because it was resting on grass, not wood chips. “It’s a safety issue,” explained a day care spokeswoman. Playing on grass is against local regulations.
And then there was the query that ran in Parents magazine a few years back: “Your child’s old enough to stay home briefly, and often does. But is it okay to leave her and her playmate home while you dash to the dry cleaner?” Absolutely not, the magazine averred: “Take the kids with you, or save your errand for another time.” After all, “you want to make sure that no one’s feelings get too hurt if there’s a squabble.”
The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can’t use tools, they can’t play on grass, and they certainly can’t be expected to work through a spat with a friend.
And this, it could be argued, is why we have “safe spaces” on college campuses and millennials missing adult milestones today. We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us.
I’m a child of the Sixties and Seventies. I remember going fishing with my Dad when I was six or seven. The Old Man liked to fish distant pools in trout streams several miles from the nearest parking, and he always set a good pace on those hikes; I was expected to keep up with him.
We rode bikes everywhere, wandered the woods for days at a time. When I was about 12, it was routine for me to be away from the house for two or three days at a time, with a .22 rifle, a few sandwiches and a bag of cookies. The first few times I did this, my Mom would admit to worrying a little; the Old Man always told her, “…he’ll come home when he gets hungry.”
My friends and I spent long days wandering the woods, climbing trees, sneaking through pastures inhabited by short-tempered bulls to get to good fishing holes.
Somehow we survived all that. Somehow, all the kids of those years that I’m in touch with today survived to be capable, successful adults.
We deprive or kids of an awful lot by depriving them of such times.