World, take note. Kids don’t play outside anymore.
I know, right? This was news to me as well. I grew up on a cul-de-sac in leafy suburban Connecticut, and we all played on the cul-de-sac. We called it “the circle.” The circle was the site of a lot of games – real and made up. We rode Big Wheels and skateboards and had something called The Green Machine.
Man, that thing was cool.
As we got older, we started playing other fun games like “Kick the Can” and “Bloody Murder.” Essentially someone would hide in the neighborhood when it was dark, everyone else would go look for them, when you found them you yelled BLOODY MURDER and everyone ran back to home base and the last one back was the one who had to go out and hide in the scary dark. This was fun. And this is what I wanted for the Pirate, until my dreams were pissed on by today’s Helicopter Parents where everything is organized.
Cool Dad: You’re looking for a house in a neighborhood and it doesn’t exist. Kids don’t play outside anymore. They don’t ride bikes. They don’t even walk to school anymore.
Bad Mommy: Oh. What do they do?
At this point several people pass us with their faces buried in their phones.
Bad Mommy: Right. Video games. Never mind.
It’s all very sad for me. I drive through neighborhoods all the time for work and I realize it’s true – I never see kids playing outside. We’ll eventually have to move to a bigger place for the Pirate because we don’t exactly have an enviable living environment. Making that choice seems so…hard. Neighborhood friends were a big deal to us. My brothers and I are all still close with our neighborhood friends from decades ago. They came to our weddings. I just don’t get why all this organized play time and driving from house to house is the norm now instead of just hanging out outside waiting for other kids to finish dinner. I’m not sure how I could bring this back in style – send the Little Pirate out there by herself to play alone and hope someone else joins her, all the time spying on her from the window to make sure she doesn’t get kidnapped?
Sigh. There’s no good answer to this one.
For now, we’ll stay put in the city since at least there are playgroups and playgrounds to meet friends. The only problem is that people don’t seem to commit to the city for the long haul – they seem to eventually pack it in for the ‘burbs. Or another city. So the Pirate may be able to have her neighborhood friends, but they just might be a rotating cast of characters every few years. I wonder if she’ll remember their names well enough to invite them to her wedding.