To camp we go; also to dance, to travel teams, to the park, to anywhere but our own neighborhoods, it seems. I recently rode my bike around our neighborhood on a gorgeous Summer day, and I couldn’t help but conjure up the idea of a ghost town. No kids, no bikes, no ball-games, no sounds. Nothing. It literally looked like an abandoned movie set, albeit with gorgeous landscaping. In my mind, there is something tragically wrong with this picture. My kids see it too. Shocker, I know.
As I write this, my family is five days away from a household move to New York. We already have a house waiting, that we’ve never seen, in a neighborhood we’ve never visited. Typical military housing scenario, for those who aren’t in the know. Anyway, I was lying in bed last night, at zero-dark-thirty, trying to imagine that it will be different there; better there. Perhaps the “security” of a military base will have some sway on the plague of child-safety paranoia that we’re up against. Maybe a military-patrolled neighborhood will qualify as safe enough to let kids play outside unsupervised. Then, it struck me; that’s just a small part of the problem. The real issue is that kids’ lives have been completely uprooted from the idea of the neighborhood, and transplanted into camps, gyms, parks, and long rides to the “game”, wherever it happens to be. So, even if we have armed guards at every corner, parents will continue to drive by, give a friendly wave, and proceed to the nearest weekend-killing event to sip coffee on the sidelines, and gossip about which “activities” they’re signing their children up for next year. Neighborhoods, I fear, may be dead, folks. I know, this is not surprising to anyone who would be reading this blog, and it has been written a few thousand times already, but it just seemed particularly disturbing at 0330 this morning.
So, how do we fix this? Wow, tough one. I do know that it’s certainly not going to fix itself. Once I am back “among my people” on base (or, on “post” now, since it’s an Army thing), I will take stock of what’s going on there, and see if I can muster some ideas, confidence, and momentum. As Stephen Mallory might say, we’re facing a big, drooling beast here. (A little Fountainhead for ya… 🙂
Go love your kids!