It was a grand day and nearly killed us both, but that is in the nature of any task involving keeping up with two pre-teen girls (later joined by a classmate bringing the total to three) who view neither self-restraint nor frugality as virtues.
But that is not really my point here. The point is that I think that we older people frequently look upon today's youth with their I-pads, smart phones, ear buds and all manner of other electronic and digital magic boxes to be a "privileged" group who continually reap the benefits of ever more sophisticated technology. However, an experience at the fair made me begin to think that this is not, necessarily, the case. The specific experience was the girls' wanting to play the age-old midway game where one throws darts at balloons in order to win cheap, tacky stuffed animals.
Well, we approach the stand and imagine my shock when I found NO DARTS IN EVIDENCE!! Instead, there was a collection of small vinyl balls resembling the "Hacky Sacks" that our older kids used to use to practice soccer moves. When I asked the attendant running the game how one breaks a balloon with a very soft and light ball, she showed me that the balloons are placed in square "pigeon holes" which have a nail protruding from the back wall and, thus, hitting the balloon with the ball drives the balloon into the nail point and bursts it. "Very clever, but why is all this complication of a relatively simple game?" I asked. The lady running things then told me that darts have been banned because last year, some kid threw a dart and hit another kid and so, rather than recognize that accidents happen and, more likely, to avoid a law suit in our increasingly litigious society, darts have been banished from the mid-way!!!
The problem, fellow citizens, is that this is not an isolated incident. Just this past week, I saw on the national news that a school district in Washington state has banned swings from playgrounds. This action was taken because a little girl fell off a swing and was fatally injured. Now, the death of a child is certainly tragic but to ban swings for everyone because of it is, in my view, more than just over-reaction. This ban and others like it (e.g.disallowing dodge-ball during recess because of the danger of a bloody nose) are ridiculous exercises in trying to enclose children in the legal equivalent of bubble wrap so as to avoid injury or law suits brought by irate parents, even in the absence of actual injury, or both.
I fear that, if this kind of thinking by adults continues, the current, and indeed the next, generation of kids will never know the freedom we knew while growing up to try new things, to take risks, to get knocked down and get up again, to get their noses bloodied, their knees scraped and, along the way, to learn valuable lessons about getting along in this world.
And that is a real shame---it makes them, in a small but important way, the deprived generations.