You all remember the movie Bye, Bye, Birdie from the 1960s — or perhaps you don’t! Well I do and I remember Dick Van Dyke singing:
What the devil’s wrong with these kids today? Kids!
Who could guess they would turn out that way!
Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids?
What’s the matter with kids today?
Well I was perfect in every way. I played baseball with an old ball held together with electrical tape (Who could afford a new baseball?) and played in the street until it was dark and my mother called me in for supper. Yes, kids and grandkids, I actually walked to school through rain and snow and walked home for lunch and then back to school until 3:30. (Unlike today, school had teachers and a principal as well as a traveling nurse who came by about once a month to check our teeth.
When I had a birthday party, it consisted of a homemade cake with candles that were lit with a wooden match, not a propane charcoal lighter. Presents were simple and I remember each and every one of them. One was a chemistry set from my sister. Do they still have those things? I never became a great microbiologist but I did have a lot of fun.
My dad also got me a Gilbert Erector Set. Wow, I could actually build things using a screwdriver and pliers. I even had a small motor and was able to construct a building with a moving elevator. I also got at one time, a set of Tinker Toys, which I think are still made, and was able to build some incredible windmills and other things with it, with my father’s help of course.
So what is the big deal about all that? Have you been to any kid’s birthday parties lately? They all have the mandatory bounce house, water slide, pony rides, clowns, etc. If not, kids are taken to a bowling alley or skating rink with all their friends, which usually includes lunch and prizes. I wasn’t even allowed to go to a bowling alley in my day; not a safe place for kids. Same went for pool rooms.
Some parents, rather than go through the party routine, will give their kids a sack of money and let them go out and buy whatever they want. When I say a sack of money, I mean more than I earned in three months when I started my first job. I guess I really am getting old.
We sometimes play a little game at family dinners, where I hide something and the grandkids get a reward for finding it. The prize — $1. I recently was informed by my grandson that $1 isn’t considered money. Heck, my allowance was $1 per week!
Oh yeah, I also had real friends that you could see and play with and I didn’t have to worry about being “unfriended.” We might have called each other names on occasion but always ended up remaining friends.
Those of you who know me know that my grandkids — all three of them — mean the world to me, but somehow I seem to be losing communication with them. My grandson, Julian, is now into playing a game called Minecraft or something, on his tablet device. He is able to build buildings and other structures by sliding things around on his screen. I can hardly get his attention anymore. He is too busy “building things.” Is this the new “Erector Set”?
Okay, all together now:
“What’s the matter with kids todayyyyy?”
Or sing (also from Bye, Bye, Birdie):
“So spread sunshine all over the place, just put on a happy face!”