I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d hate to watch them exist in this current state of youth gone bland.
I’d want my kids to know the bliss of leaving the house in the morning on a summer day, only returning for lunch, a drink, a bandage. Or because the streetlights came on.
I’d want them to know the crazy homeless wanderers by name, and be on a first-name basis with the ice cream guy.
Which empty houses in the neighborhood were haunted, and how to get inside.
I’d want them to experience manhunt games that stretch for blocks. Bike ramps that look like they’re made out of pure menace and tetanus.
Football in the street, someone yelling “Car!” and causing a delay of game.
Stickball where first base is the left front tire of the car that belongs to the crazy lady across the street and you’d better damn well not get too close to it or she’ll come a runnin’.
Roof-hopping at dusk, throwing snowballs at buses and itchy-balls at the kids that live on a different block.
I’d want them to know the fear of knocking someone’s laundry off the clothesline while yard-hopping and hearing the screen door bang open.
The uncontrollable laughter of watching a friend’s mom slap him silly all the way home for disappearing all day.
To know the daily joy of going to the corner store for cold-cuts and milk and a pack of smokes for Mom, Hoping there’s enough change to buy some candy.
I’d want them to know the heartbreak of your last ball going down the sewer, and the sense of accomplishment when they manage to fish it out with the coat-hangers they stole from the closet.
I’d want them to have memories of these things, not selfies and reality shows and sitting in front of a screen all day.
But that’s just me, and I don’t have kids.