I must have missed the part between when kids used to go out and play on their own to today when kids don’t go out and play unless it’s part of some complex organized activity. Kids and play used to be synonymous; now it’s an oxymoron.
At the risk of sounding like my father (“when I went to school, I walked uphill in the snow for five miles both ways. And didn’t have any shoes…”), let me just say that when I was a kid, it took no prompting from anyone to get me and my sisters out of the house and into our Chicago streets to play with the other kids on the block. The hard part for my parents was coaxing us back inside at the end of the day. And, during the summer months? Forgetaboutit. We practically had to be tied to our chairs before we’d stay inside.
We didn’t have to consult any website how-to manuals on how to play games either. We didn’t need big expensive toys (we really didn’t have any). Professional football players or basketball players didn’t have to parachute into our neighborhoods to show us how to exercise.
Kids would simply congregate outside on the sidewalks and suddenly you’d have a game of hide-and-seek, kickball, or just basic tag going on for hours. And it’s not like I’m 100 years old either. My childhood days weren’t that long ago.
Now getting kids to play seems to have turned into one big complicated production. There needs to be boatloads of community involvement, a theme, expensive uniforms, professional athletes, equipment, bribery, maybe even a full moon and planet alignment. The perfect storm.
I was watching Monday Night Football this week and there were at least two commercials for web sites that explained how to go outside and play.
How to go outside and play. Are you kidding me?
Of course, that activity itself requires kids to sit on their collective rearends in front of their computers and read all the stuff on the informational web site which, in my old-fashioned mind, kind of defeats the whole purpose of going outside to play.
And I refuse to blame the problem on computers. That’s an easy excuse for parents to use. “Little Dakota is always on the computer. That’s why he doesn’t go outside.” So get your Little Dakota away from the computer. Or the television. Who’s in charge in your household? If drop-kicked outside, kids will find a way to play because the idea of being bored for longer than five minutes is just too excruciating.
So, just do it.
::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::