Old Fogie Speak.
If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship,
don’t ask what seat, just get on.
A shoutout to Robin Kimble, whose picture and post prompted this entry.
The Monkey Bars: Weren’t they great? Sometimes, you fell down, scraped a knee, or something. Sometimes you even bumped your head, a little. You cried ouch, shed a tear or two and then got back on the damn thing.
Sometimes, somebody broke something and had it set, and walked around with a cast like wearing it like a medal, and got ice cream for being brave.
I’m going to speak wearing my old-fogie hat. There was a time when adults didn’t mix in child’s play, much. There were no supervised play dates, no choosing a child’s play companions on the outside. Of course, if child invited a friend over to the house to play, the clumsy kids were relegated to the back yard, with only access to the bathroom, when necessary, allowed. If during play, the child needed a drink, it got it in a cup so heavy an atom bomb couldn’t have shattered it, or later, tupperware. For sibling play in the home, the only restrictions were don’t tease the dog, and don’t wake your father.
A kid fell down, the adult bandaged the knee and sent them back out. In the summer, kids only came home for lunch, and when the street lamps came on. Now, greed owns the playground and the backyard, and any play space not your own. Today, we look for reasons to sue; we sue over hangnails.
Little League, (the grandparent of play-dates) the beginning of the end of this halycon existence learning about life, was a suburban thing. In the city, this kid had a bat, this and that kid had a softball and/or gloves. You went to the park and played ball, arguing over rules and regulations almost more than you played. You learned how to negotiate rather than obey higher expertise.
It all looked like fun, and mostly it was, but play was also about learning that life wasn’t all lollipops, and winning. It was about learning how to deal with the bad and the good. It was about learning how to win, how to lose, and how to deal and live with both. Losing often encouraged trying harder, making deeper committments.
Despite my use, earlier, of the word halcyon, there were moments of darkness amidst the light. For example, the problem of bullies. I know that bullies have always been and always will be, but I will admit today’s brand seems more vicious, more given to a kind of invisible presence, which is allowed, even fostered, given today’s technology.
Bullies, in my time, always had a group of scyophants around to admire their bullying. Not the “butchest” of boys. I had to learn how to protect myself. With Bugs Bunny as my role model, I learned to turn most attempts to humilate me on their heads; sarcasm and ridicule made the bully the butt, not me, and they lost face among their friends. Bullies do not like losing face. Gay people, especially men, learn to use the weapons of sarcasm and ridicule very early. Practice makes perfect, and not to add to a sterotype, but this is why most adult gay men are very good at this kind of humor. Others were not so lucky. .
All considered, my generation of kid had both less and more. I think I understand a little of how our more was lost, but that will have to wait for another post.