For years you could take advantage of lax child-labor laws. When kids armed with rakes or snow shovels would knock on your door, they’d rake and shovel for a couple bucks and maybe some hot chocolate. No more. Where have they gone?
I think I found them. They’re all hidden behind phones, tablets, GameBoys, iMacs and what-have-you.
I was at a friend’s house when her husband asked their son if he wanted to play ball. The boy enthusiastically said yes and ran upstairs, presumably to don warmer clothes. Meanwhile, Dad got the bat and balls from a closet. The son came downstairs and waited by the video-game-thing with a cartridge for, presumably, a baseball video game. A long, silent exchange took place as father and son realized they were both in the pond, just in different boats. My friend and I laughed.
But it was really kind of sad.
Nowadays, people who are in the same house call each other. Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned yelling? Yelling was fun, expressive and advantageous. As I would pull out of the driveway, I’d yell to my husband, “How much can I spend?”
No matter what he yelled back, it always sounded like “$300!”
Yelling was great comic relief. This is an actual exchange that happened at my in-laws’ house: My brother-in-law, Jon, yelled down the hall, “Where’s my blue shirt?” to which my mother-in-law answered, “He called yesterday,” to which Jon yelled back, “Thank you.”
My husband and I still laugh about it.
It’s not just the loss of cheap child labor and the art of communicating at an increased volume. It’s those dang screens. All the girls are texting each other. All the boys are trying to find porn and texting each other when they do.
I forbade my daughter from bringing her cell phone to the table during meals. You’d have thought I was asking her to cut off her thumbs. It wasn’t like I was serving a four-course meal that required a few hours to masticate. How long does it take to eat a grilled cheese and slurp down tomato soup?
Too long, apparently. The world would cease its rotation unless my daughter was texting.
An unfortunate side effect of all this electronic correspondence is that kids are forgetting how to spell—and if they can’t spell, how can they be expected to make it in this cruel world? Everything is acronyms. PIN means Parent In Room. Ttfn means Ta-ta for now. PDTPOIPYTF means Put Down The Phone Or I’ll Punch You In The Face.
Actually, that last one’s my creation.
But maybe there’s hope…
How about kids record leaf-raking contests on live feed? Or post cool videos of that time they played a game of catch with their dads? Kids can get those swipers for their phones and charge people’s credit cards for shoveling their driveways and raking leaves. Kids can Instagram artfully filtered pictures of their grilled cheeses and soup. And we can all get into the habit of putting our phones on speaker at the loudest volume possible when someone calls us. It’s nearly as good as yelling. Not quite, but almost.