I want to apologize to my kids. I am sorry for the world that I will someday turn over to you. It's a sucky world, and you don't deserve it. Trust me, it didn't used to be that way. And I will tell you why.
Bill and I are fond of drinking wine, listening to music and pondering. We do it often, and because he is my best friend we talk about damn near everything under the sun. I especially like "remember when" conversations.
Bill: Remember when we were kids?
(Note - Bill and I met when I was 20 and he was 23, so we were not kids together, per se. We lived five miles apart but it might as well been a hundred, since we never crossed paths).
B: I used to play baseball all day long. I would leave the house after breakfast and play all morning (under the smokestack in Madison Heights that has since been shut down due to all the carcinogens it leached for a million years) then come home for lunch and ride back to the park and play until it was too dark to see.
K: (Whose dad worked on the road and mother was not nearly as liberal with boundaries) Oh man, I used to play in another kid's back yard. We actually spread across three yards and I was the youngest so I always had to play way-out-in-the-field-go-get-the-ball. It was the best.
Our conversation segued into confessions about petty theft: (me: Bonne Bell Lip Smackers; him: Penthouse), best candy: (me: straight up no nut Hershey Bar; him: Whatchamacallit), worst thing you ever did: (me: locking my brother out of the house in his underwear in February; him: starting a fire at Korvette's Department Store).
(You're wondering how he turned out so morally superior to me, aren't you? Shut up. )
Bill ate dinner with his family every night, at a table, with salad and a meat and vegetable. (My mom gave it a hell of a shot). We both went on family vacations and had amazing Christmases where we received over the top presents. (Him: a unicycle; me: record player and Aerosmith album - squee!). We both played any sport we wanted and had parents that carted us to practices and games and meets. We had an excellent childhood and no therapist will convince me otherwise.
I am afraid to let my eight year old play out in the front yard alone. I would not dream of letting her ride her bike around the block. Or walk home from school. Or be alone at the park.
My son, although an great athlete, spent way too much time in front of video games when he should have been outside running around like we did. (Although I am grateful that area fire departments did not have to respond to his handiwork). Why can't it be like it was?
Because people are crazy now. And they suck. And they could pluck my children off the grass and into a van and I would never be able to breathe again. Sleepovers? Not for her. There are scary Daddies and Uncles that I cannot bring myself to trust, no matter how nice they are on the surface. The Boy can only go on them now because he can punch someone out if the situation warrants. As an added bonus we can now hold our breath until he arrives home at night, scared shitless that someone decided to shoot him as he drives around with his mouthy friends.
Is this the same world we had thirty years ago? Were Bill and I just too naive to know it back then? Does every generation do this? I am terrified for my (someday) grandchildren, who will probably have to work until they are 90 and live in a box because we have screwed up everything for them.
Hurry up Obama. Put Humpty-USA-Dumpty back together again.
Oh, and I am sorry about the "we all sit down to dinner" thing, kids. Unfortunately, I inherited Mema's "I gave it a hell of a shot" gene. For the record, once a month and bank holidays is not the family dinner goal you are striving for when you grow up.