Not interested in driving

By Joe Rector

I’m forever amazed by the differences between generations. We old folks remember our first television sets and the introduction to color television. Amy and I finally bought a color TV after we married. Our children have always had TVs, and now they and we have devices in several rooms. My childhood home had one phone on the wall in the kitchen. Now, we all have one stuck in our pockets. I remember watching the landing on the moon with my mother and brothers, and I wondered how much more the feat meant to her since she was born in 1917 when planes were rare sightings. The children of today require even more spectacular things to rouse them.

We used to go outside and find something to do. Sometimes sports took up our time; in other instances, we built with scrap lumber, bricks, or limbs. Some of our best times were spent inside a lean-to made with pine branches cleared from the woods. We drove imaginary jeeps made with sticks and bricks from battle to battle. Adult supervision wasn’t necessary, and the only time a parent might intrude on play was if a child needed a Band-Aid or mercurochrome for a scratch or scrape. The rules were simple: stay outside until it was time to eat supper or when daylight gave way to darkness.

Playing is demanding on the entire family these days. Children join teams in leagues. They practice! What’s practice? Parents pay out big bucks for uniforms and equipment, and some families spend small fortunes as children play on traveling teams. What used to be games are now serious commitments for extended periods of time.

What bothers me most about today’s children is their detachment from the world. From the moment that they pick up that first controller and turn on the video games, children lose interest in the outside world. Before long, those little ones become teens, and when they obtain that first phone, their necks begin to develop that strange curvature. Instead of discovering the wonders of this world, they keep their eyes downcast to view the latest social media nonsense.

Too many young people have little ambition. They don’t work a part-time job that could put a bit of extra money in their pockets; parents will dole out cash when needed. Serving others rarely occurs unless such acts earn points for clubs or look good on a college application.

Most appalling to us oldsters is how uninterested so many teens are in earning a driver’s license. Those games of war or building a city are much too enticing for high schoolers. They are just as happy having parents chauffeur them to parties, friends’ homes, or school activities. Kids from the 60s lived for the day they could get a driving permit to sit behind the steering wheel whenever the family car started.

I can only guess how different the children of this teenage population will be. Of course, first of all, these teens must be more interested in making a child than building the perfect society or killing the most monsters on the computer screen. I wonder if all of these teens will look for jobs where they can sit at home and work from their desks. Maybe today’s kids will just continue to live with their parents and rely on their largesse for survival. We old people would rather have lived in a shack and eaten beans than live with our parents. It’s a different time, and Baby Boomers are no longer in charge. In our way of thinking, the world is halfway to hell in a handbasket. The results are still being created.