Toughening kids up

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I’m a little worried about our future generation, and it’s not so much that they’re lazy or smoke too much dope or listen to bad music. We did all that back in the day and still managed to crush the Soviets and invent the internet.

No, I’m worried because our kids our downright wimpy compared to the youth of my day. It’s all about safety, they say. No more playing outside–they may get kidnapped and held in underground dungeons for a decade or two.  We’ve all seen it happen on the news. Our kids have to stay right on the couch, watching hours of television. No books. Johnny thinks those are boring. And his hands don’t have a single scrape, cut or callous upon their nubile surface. Mom need not worry about scun knees unless it’s from a rug burn that Johnny got as he raced to the ringing microwave for his next frozen meal.

Back in the day, we missed meals because we didn’t want to come inside.

How about chores? I had to stack wood, mow the lawn, weed the garden. I don’t think any of that happens now. The result? A lot of unappreciative kids.

The young people I see in the Army look downright fragile. I expect smoke to rise from their skin when sunlight touches it. I mean, I was arm wrestling and getting in fights with  high school students when I was 12. My friends and I didn’t Twitter, we threw rocks at each other for fun. Oh yeah, and razor-sharp, freshwater clams, too. Excellent for taking out eyes and leaving impressive scars. Bikes, ridden as if they were part of a spoke-and-sprocket destruction derby. We made ramps, seeing how much air we could grab. We racked our nuts on goosenecks and ripped skin off our bodies. But our current generation can’t even climb on a bike without a helmet.

Something bad might happen. Little Johnny can barely go outside without being spray-painted in Nerf.

I’m assuming that Boy Scout enrollment is down from my days, too. Wouldn’t want to toughen a young boy up with a 12 hour mountain hike, sleeping in a tent in the rain, or large scale stick fights. Hate to have him act like a boy. Hate to have him not be around Mom for more than 15 minutes.

Something bad might happen.

No backyard wrestling. Just Facebook. No walking or biking to a friend’s house. Mom will give you a ride. No more playing outdoors.  The kids may get caught in the rain.

When I was 12 I was carrying a rifle around in the woods, by myself. Can you imagine if someone saw a 12 year old with a rifle, alone nowadays? FBI SWAT teams would be air-assaulted into the area for a three day standoff, with CNN there to give us a minute by minute account on what was sure to be another Columbine. And guess what I did with that rifle. I shot squirrels. Cute, defenseless critters, who made it their mission to steal the material from between the logs of our camp, making fall nights in Maine a little more chilly. So I hunted tree rat. Damn, I was a good shot.

Todays kids are a bunch of wimps. If we want to help them out, I think we ought to make their lives a little more austere. We’re creating a generation of scared old women.

Yes, Johnny needs more rocks thrown at him by his buddies, he needs to walk more, run more get hungry and get beat up. Otherwise I fear we’ll find him baking muffins and knitting sweaters.


4 thoughts on “Toughening kids up

    Lou said:
    October 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    My grandmother rode a horse to school with several of her sisters perched on its back. I’m sure they had to stable the horse before class. I walked to and from school (about a mile) until my junior year in high school when we moved to the country. Your generation and the kids of today ride a bus that picks them up in front of their house. Times change. In past generations if a kid got into fights or did drugs or broke rules, his butt was kicked out of school. I would never put my kids on a school bus. Now days a kid can be convicted of a crime and a judge will put him back in school as part of his parole – something older generations never had to deal with. Toughness comes in different shapes.

    As for me, I didn’t like the idea of schools and bully’s making my kids (your genertion) tough so I took mine out and homeschooled them. They missed a lot of “socialization” that some people may think makes a person tough. But my kids can do things that most of their peers never learned to do. My daughter is capable of building her own house. She can drive a tractor and pull a horse trailer. She drives a standard automobile as well as her motorcycle. And she has a couple of guns in her hope chest – gee, maybe that is why she is not married 🙂 Toughness is in the eye of the beholder.

    magus71 responded:
    October 5, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Oh, don’t get me wrong; tough is tough. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

    It’s just that many today are trying to skin a cat with a butter knife…

    “Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.”~John F. Kennedy

    Bill said:
    October 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I agree with your point. Each time I see a 10 year old kid with a freaking helmet on it drives me nuts. Watching kids skateboard with the equivalent of full riot gear makes me cringe. No argument there.

    Somehow though – i’m guessing you were pretty far to the right on the bad a55 bell curve 😉 even when you were young.

    Your rifle comment really struck some memories. I used to go shooting all the time, starting when I was 8. It was nothing for me to shoot a rifle or handgun , by myself, waiting for my family to get home from running chores. The only problem was the ammo- If I burned through too much I had to pay for it, and I had to collect brass for the shells. No biggy. Yep, if that happened today, it really would be a CNN 24 hr event

    T. J. Babson said:
    October 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    It is all part of the feminization of almost everything.

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