From my sister Fawn:
The only clue school is out in my neighborhood, is the obvious lack of school buses running thru it twice a day. You may think, as a NINK, I’d try to find an adults-only neighborhood, but I didn’t. In fact, children of all ages live here (I think). Between my house and the grocery store, there’s an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, and a daycare center. I actually expected to be awakened early by the yells and laughter of kids on Christmas break. There are several cul-de-sacs for kids to play in and nice wide streets for them to bike, run, or toss a frisbee (cars are parked in garages or driveways), but school’s been out a week and they are not outside playing. Where are they? What are they doing?
Just because I chose not to have kids, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the child-like enthusiasm inspired by not having to go to school! Who didn’t stay up late on Sunday thinking no-school Monday meant sleeping in? But come Monday morning we were up earlier than ever. Front doors would open and kids would spill out in play-clothes instead of school-clothes, carrying an arsenal of toys. Not dollies, transformers, or handheld electronics. No! Our toys were frisbees, footballs, kickballs, skates, bikes, etc. We’d meet in the street and start a game of frisbee-golf* walking thru the neighborhood to see who else was up, out, and ready to play. Our band of merriment grew by the hour. We went door-to-door with impromptu caroling. We played hide-n-seek, raced downhill on bikes and skates (no safety pads), and as soon as someone got hurt (typically a screamer), we meandered home to eat and warm up. In less than an hour, we congregated back outside and played until the streetlights came on. At night we fell into bed tired as all get out, and happy knowing we had two more weeks of fun ahead. If school is out for Christmas, you can’t tell it around here, so I did a little research. First I checked school signs. They said school was out and wished everyone happy holidays. Instead of driving straight to the gym, I drove thru the neighborhood looking for signs of activity and found none. It was a total head scratcher, until I stopped fast-forwarding thru commercials. Judging by the advertisements (my only connection to a kids’ world), simulated activity is now the norm. Instead of dressing warmly and going outside, kids stay inside playing golf, bowling, and dancing. All electronically – thanks to WII, and in their pjs. After a morning of “playing”, they start to whine about being bored, so at least one stay-at-home mom is enlisted to drive them all to the mall to buy new games.** That’s sad, and not just because it’s crowding me out of the malls for the next two weeks. But think about it…sure, they may have to fish the WII wand out from under the couch after an energetic fling, but they will never know the thrill of jumping into the grass to stop their out-of-control downhill skate, or the fear of climbing into the storm drain to retrieve an overthrown frisbee, or hoping the football didn’t make a dent in the car after a missed catch, or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate passed out by the elderly woman who appreciated the impromptu caroling. I know a group of people who grew up in Decatur, Georgia (a small town just east of Atlanta) who have all these memories. Hopefully they are giving their kids real memories of play, not just simulated ones.
Fawn Griffith Martinelli