And every morning before school, I see the children waiting for the bus across the street from my house.
I don’t think I would really notice the kids…except it also appears that a bunch of adults are waiting to catch the bus to school too. Maybe they’re in remedial fourth grade.
But they’re not a bunch of adult fourth graders. Every child has a parent waiting for the bus with them. You know, standing next to them…in public.
And every afternoon, there are cars lined up along my street. The same parents are waiting to pick their kids up…from the bus. I am incredulous.
And every day, I say the same thing to myself…
What is wrong with you people? Get off my lawn, you street urchins!
Because it’s not just the bus stop. The way I see things, it says everything about what kind of kids we’re raising.
Mom, Get Out of Here!
Let me say that from a very young age, I would’ve slapped my mother if she had dared show her face at the bus stop. A few parents were there the first week of school. We had one or two bus stop parents that let us sit in their vans if it was raining (yes, we got in strangers’ cars.) But we didn’t have a gaggle of parents waiting with us one-hundred and fifty-seven days after the first day of school.
These kids seem different. They have no shame in Mommy or Daddy escorting them to the bus stop every day. And Mommy and Daddy seem to have nothing better to do. Have these kids still not figured out how to wait for the bus by themselves? It’s pretty easy. But most elementary schools today have more kids getting picked up by their parents than riding the buses.
And what is with parents waiting every afternoon for fifteen minutes in their cars for the bus to drop their precious angels off after a day of government sponsored daycare? God forbid the little crumb-crunchers learn how to walk an entire block to their house, unlock the door, and get their own dang Oreos.
Maybe it’s not this way in your neighborhood, but mine can’t be the only one.
Where Have All The Kids Gone?
We’ve got a great little park in my neighborhood. I never see kids playing there. There’s an awesome creek that runs through the park too. It’s begging to have forts and foot bridges built next to it and crawdads caught from it. No kids there either.
We never have more than ten trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I know we have more than ten kids in the hood. I see them every day waiting for the bus.
I know where all the kids have gone. After the bus ride (and car ride), it’s off to some little league game or other organized activity. Kids don’t have free time anymore. There isn’t even such a thing as “disorganized play,” because kids aren’t friends with the neighbor kids. They only play with an organized team. They’re never out of Mommy’s watchful gaze.
It’s a Big Scary World. Better Just Stay Inside.
You know it didn’t used to be this way. You got to do so many things you’d never let your kids do!
Parents keep a tighter leash on their kids today because they’re afraid. They are afraid of everything. They are afraid of the bus stop. They are afraid of the park. They are afraid of Halloween. Their kids don’t know how to play outside the structure of a sport or the artificial environment of a video game, but at least they’re safe. And the only thing those parents are accomplishing is they are raising kids who are also afraid of everything, rather than kids who can actually take care of themselves.
I’m sure glad my Dad taught me how to walk through a parking garage at night, rather than just being afraid of it. I’m really glad I learned how to take care of myself outdoors, rather than just avoiding the outdoors. I’m really glad I was taught what to do in an emergency, rather than just worry about what could happen. I’m really glad I learned how to deal with strangers, rather than just be afraid of them.
Go ahead and tell me the world is so much more dangerous than it used to be. Yeah, sure is. And kids used to be ten times as able to deal with danger. Today, instead of having kids that are able to deal with a world that’s ten times as dangerous, we’ve got kids that just learn to be ten times as afraid of it.
Have you seen this increase in parental fear? What did you get away with when you were a kid that you’d never let your kids do?