Sunday’s Rant

I will be 73 years old in a couple of months. The day I was born the New York Times headline screamed that the Russians were retreating at Stalingrad before General von Paulus’ all conquering German 6th Army and the end was nigh.

Having been born in 1942 I spent my adolescent years in Brooklyn in the 1950s. Ike was President. I graduated high school at 16 on a Thursday and went to work on Monday.

As a kid I always had Summer jobs. One Summer I worked on a fruit and vegetable truck; another year I delivered groceries. At 15 I was an usher in a movie theater. Today there are few Summer jobs for kids that young. They’ve all been filled by adults working for the minimum wage thanks to capitalism. And getting a Summer job is no longer expected; indeed most parents wouldn’t want a 15 year old to be working.

I played stick ball with other kids – in the street. Traveled on the subway to Ebbitt’s Field or Yankee Stadium with friends, rode a bike without a helmet; sat in the front seat of my dad’s car without a seat belt.  I rode the subway alone to the Museum of Natural History many times; went to the library; went to the beach at Coney Island.  I attended the 1956 NFL Championship Game at 14 years old in Yankee Stadium – alone. No parents. I don’t know how I survived! Mom and dad must have been guilty of neglect!

At 16, working full time, I was no longer considered a “child”, though I couldn’t drink or drive in New York City until I turned 18 and couldn’t vote until 21. At 16 I was viewed by society as a working man. My father treated me like a man as I was contributing to the household budget.  By the time I was 20 I was standing in awe at the Parthenon in Athens and traveling in East Africa,

When did a 17 year old become a “child” without responsibility? Are kids “growing up” faster or slower these days? My wife to be was 17 when I met her. She was no child.   I married her 7 months later while both sets of parents went nuts.  We were together 40 years.

Maybe it started when kids were no longer allowed to ride a bicycle without a helmet and knee pads. And no longer allowed to play stick ball in the street. When a baseball game could no longer be played in an empty field with only kids in attendance; when it had to be played under the supervision of adults, parents in the stands making fools of themselves; helmets mandatory.  Trophies for everyone.

Perhaps it was the helicoptering in of parents to solve every problem of childhood. Or the scheduling of “activities” by the social secretary mom.

Am I starting to sound like an old crank? Yeah, I know.

In many ways childhood is ending sooner; homework in Kindergarten.

The vast amount and access to information brings the media’s view of the world to the “child.” Television, the internet, the iphone all end innocence early. Is there a 14 year old out there with access to a computer who hasn’t seen and been influenced by hard core porn? Not influenced by violence and the objectification of women? Our entire media celebrity culture endeavors to define “tweeners” in terms of “hotness”. Once upon a time “teen age idols” were really teenagers.

Of course mom and dad can always reach the “child” on their smart phone when he or she is out of sight. Mom and dad are always there, even when they are not; and most of the time they are not. Both working.

So with the easy access to information and the entire world at their fingertips, what is it that enamors our kids most? Celebrity. Fashion. Coolness. Hotness.

In many ways childhood ends in Middle School when the bullying starts. Too many kids today are just mean little SOBs with an enormous sense of entitlement.  Yes we had bullies 60 years ago – but if you punched the bully in the face in the schoolyard no one was going to expel you from school. No one was going to sue your parents. Usually whether you gave a beating or took one, no one was going to bother you again.

Now, the law says one must be 21 to legally have a drink thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.   Nobody waits that long. One can vote at 18, join the military, sign a contract – but not have a drink.

There is vastly  more underage drinking among “kids” today than when the drinking age was 18. It seems that raising the drinking age had the opposite affect.  I cannot understand the romance behind binge drinking – drinking until one falls down. That to me is a sure sign that no matter what the age, one is not “grown – up”.

And these are twenty some things falling unconscious – not 15 year olds. Maybe if they didn’t spend their entire lives with mom and dad hovering they wouldn’t feel the need to go wild as soon as they got away to college. And they would be a hell of a lot more “street smart” than the over protected idiots on campus.  I had my first drinks at home – well underage; and when I got sick and passed out my father put me to bed.

We have turned our young into perpetual kids with few if any responsibilities and gigantic expectations.  Worse still,  we have given them nothing to do; nothing for which they are responsible.

Now I must admit some things were easier for me.  I bought my first house at 24.  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree at the City University of New York. It cost me nothing.  It wasn’t open enrollment mind you; one had to qualify to matriculate. But it was free. FREE! No student loans. I did it at night while working a full time job during the day.  As rich a country as we are, there are no free colleges anymore for our kids.

We saddle them with debt and put them on the treadmill.  We are creating cogs for the wheels,  owing money from day one to some bank before they even begin, aided and abetted by a corporate media interested only in distraction and selling shit and making celebrity heroes.  Just today, Huffpo ran an article on it’s front page that Kylie Jenner had found the perfect cheap workout outfit.  Last week the Arthur Ashe Courage award, given in 2009 to Nelson Mandela, was given to a Jenner.

We’ve taken away their dreams leaving no sense of wonder and accomplishment – now all they want to be is “popular” and “famous”.  And we can’t understand why sonny boy is 29 and still living in the basement.

,

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photo: www.playle.com

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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25 Responses to Sunday’s Rant

  1. Ms. V says:

    Yep. You’re cranky, but not without provocation. There really are a lot of good, hardworking kids out there; more than anyone realizes because they don’t make a lot of noise. The entitled, the bullies, the attention-seekers are far noisier though fewer in number.

    Like

  2. Another Ms. V here! It’s exactly the same in the UK. But as Ms. V says, there are, thank heaven, some good ones out there but not many.

    Like

  3. toritto says:

    Hi Ms V and FND – I tend to think both of you may have a better crop living as each of you do in Europe. Too many kids here (and I mean high school and college “kids”) are woefully ignorant – can’t or won’t carry on an intelligent conversation (constantly looking at the phone); most have totally illegible handwriting (unless they print) since they didn’t learn how to write script (always on a computer); can’t write two coherent paragraphs, can’t do simple math without a hand held calculator. They have no real life experience (mom and dad won’t let them do anything). They hate school cause it’s a caretaker facility and know little of art, music or history. Yet they know all there is to know about Kim’s pregnancies, Kylie’s fashion and Iggy’s latest squeeze thanks to our media. They live for a selfie with a “celeb”.

    In some ways I have have more respect (and feel badly) for kids who join the military straight out of high school. They want something more. They feel something is missing and they desperately want to DO something – to feel grown up. Our nation plays on this – skip the college debt and “be all you can be”.

    God forbid your 20 year old wants to travel alone to Italy or Greece – my eldest daughter did. And we let her go; she spent her own money. She came home with a new view of the world. Too many keep them children for as long as they can – catering to their every want and need until the ball game is over – then they find they are in debt for college and there is no alternative save wage slavery. Sad indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t be fooled by the UK. The ignorance is breathtaking. I first began to realise this soon after the turn of the century when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was at its height. Most couldn’t answer the simplest questions that you or I would have answered without a second thought because the answers were the bedrock of our education. It’s frightening to think how molly-coddled they are and how much they yearn for celebrity instead of an interesting, fulfilling and inspiring life. I dread to think what the future brings.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sojourner says:

    Bravo!

    Like

  5. sojourner says:

    Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    Read and consider the following, and then take a good look around at the mess we have made!

    Like

  6. jfwknifton says:

    Are you starting to sound like an old crank? No, you are turning into a teller of truths. A Spiritual Leader.

    Like

  7. One thing I regret about my childhood is that I grew up in the Midwest and never got to play stickball. We played kick the can and 500, but I always got the feeling they weren’t quite as good. The baby boom made it great to be a child in the fifties because there were always lots of kids to play with. It was always somewhat of a struggle to find playmates for my daughter.

    Like

  8. Thank you for posting this as it is right on point. I remember working my first job at the age of 15 in the country store and we had the old cash registers and we had to count out the correct change. Nowadays, when I pay with cash and say, “wait a minute, I have the change,” and the clerk has already pressed the register key, they stand there looking stupid because they cannot even make change unless the cash register does it for them. To this day, I can automatically calculate correct change in my head thanks to a system I developed for doing it back in the day.

    These kids today are in sad shape; both physically and mentally. We were outside playing, riding bikes, big wheels, playing badminton, swimming, etc., and when I look around when I am out, everyone and I mean, everyone is looking down at a phone. There is now a new diagnosis for that and it’s called “text neck.” I wish I was kidding! Again, thanks for posting this! I hear you!

    Like

  9. beetleypete says:

    Like Sarah, (FND) I have met some kids who are trying hard to do their best. But only a few. As she says, many are ignorant. Whether it’s their fault or not, they still are. I know 26 year-olds who cannot tell the time on an analogue watch. As for spelling, times tables, simple division and addition, easy conversion of currency, forget all that. They check it on a smartphone, and let the machine do the work. They never remember the answer, just check it the same, next time. History? Not a clue. My 25-year old step-daughter asked me if I was a soldier in the First World War. (I am 63) Geography? They don’t have an inkling, and think they have to travel south, to get to Scotland.
    It’s all gone, except for the ‘gifted few.’

    As for America, I never understood how a teenager was expected to be man enough to die in the sea in front of Omaha Beach, but not be allowed to buy a beer the week before.

    You got it right Frank. UK or USA, all the same now.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • toritto says:

      🙂

      “What did you do in the war daddy? Were you at the Somme?”

      I’m laughing but I shouldn’t be……….Regards

      Like

      • beetleypete says:

        We were watching a documentary about a year ago, and she asked ‘Were you there, Pete? What was it like?’ The lack of knowledge, and the genuine lack of interest that accompanied that, made me feel overwhelmingly sad at the time.
        But it is funnt to read, I allow that Sarah.

        Like

      • Toritto, you may as well laugh because it’s all just too sad for words and speaking for myself, I’ll take laughter any day and unfortunately, we cannot fix all of this.

        Like

  10. beetleypete says:

    Sorry, meant to type, funny to read, and I allow that Frank. (it’s catching…)

    Like

  11. Ms. V says:

    We’re letting the boys loose on their own to Paris in a few weeks. Paris will never be the same.

    Like

    • toritto says:

      Hi V – Yeah I remember when. My eldest went to Paris, London and Madrid with her high school when she graduated. She was 17 but they were “chaperoned” – right. At 20 she decided she wanted to go to Italy – alone. This was in the days of no cell phones. She called twice a week. She was fine and came home with a much broader attitude. The boys will have a great time in Paris! Regards

      Like

  12. toritto says:

    And there is nothing like a Ramones t-shirt on a person who doesn’t know who they are to put you in your place! 🙂

    Like

  13. Norman Pilon says:

    “Frank the crank.” Lapsing once in a while into that mold is something we all do. But we have to be especially vigilant in our 70s, as age by itself, without reason, inclines us in that direction. I’ll put it down to one of your off days.

    Still, it was a pleasant read.

    Regards,

    Like

  14. M J Hansen says:

    Born 1947. Blessed that I was born and live in New Zealand. There is still a sense of the old way of life in this country, available for those who choose to take it. You have hit the nail on the head with your Sunday rant. Life has changed furiously fast.

    Like

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