The Amish are best known for their simple living, plain dress and their distain for modern conveniences. I have come to the definitive conclusion that my wife and daughters are not Amish. I also now know for absolute certain that I am not Amish. Not only are we not Amish, we are most certainly the exact opposite of the Amish. I’m also pretty sure that the Amish would hate my family and me if they were to meet us. Although that would be a pretty awesome experiment. Set up a control room somewhere with my kids and a couple of Amish kids and have them hang out for a few hours. Even though the long term effects are not easily foreseen, I’m pretty sure my daughter would have them singing Hannah Montana songs and kicking ass at Wii Tennis before they were able to say Jakob Ammann.
Why am I babbling this semi-incoherent Amish nonsense? Because I can’t freaking believe how much shit my kids have. For that matter, I can’t believe how much shit most kids have these days in general. What happened to the days of bowl haircuts and tube sox? Does anyone play outside anymore? I mean honest to goodness playing outside. I’m not talking about $2,000 redwood swing sets or gigantic inflatable jumpers. I’m talking about a baseball catch or tossing the Frisbee around. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned bike ride. Maybe even one of those Ross bikes with the banana seat and the flag in the back. When did we switch from the Green Machine to the $500 electric Barbie Hummer? Jeez, we can’t be serious with this stuff.
Let’s take for instance birthday parties. I know there’s something special about a kid’s birthday party. It’s a great time to shower them with all the love and affection they deserve. But when I look back in the family albums (or even more conveniently find a tagged photo of myself on someone’s Facebook page) to my 6th birthday party, I see pictures of all my friends and me at my HOUSE. That’s right, my HOUSE. Some of the pictures show us sitting around the dining room table eating Fudgie the Whale. Some of the pictures capture some pretty intense rounds of Pin the Tale on the Donkey. We had party hats and party horns. We gobbled up frozen Charleston Chews. It was fantastic I tell you. No one complained. None of the parents tried to out do each other. Every once in a while you’d get a bowling party or god forbid, a pizza party. But that was the deal and the deal was good I tell you. Now days you travel to far away lands where children dress up like princesses and kings. They go to get their hair primped and styled with make up and painted nails like it’s a mini prom. There are towering slides and machine powered inflatable castles. It’s a magical transformation to another dimension filled with gumball wishes... actually I think it's bullshit. I can't stand it.
I feel like we’ve set the bar too high. It’s just another reason why are kids are so spoiled and unappreciative these days. Don’t get me wrong. They are sweet and innocent and all that good stuff but they expect too much. My wife and I were shopping for a new car recently and my 6-year-old daughter insisted that our new car must have television in the back seat so she can watch her shows. The other day I heard my 2 year old arguing her little heart out with her sister over who gets to use the ipod. When I open my garage, it takes my kids ten minutes to choose which mode of transportation to use to transport them around the block. Razor Scooter, Big wheel, Bicycle, Electric Barbie car or this new high tech hybrid of a big wheel / bike that uses the inertia of your swinging arms to push you forward at an excruciatingly slow pace. It makes me want to turn myself in to child services.
It makes me sad to think that my kids will never have vinyl record albums or the turntable to spin them on. They’ll never have an Atari 5200 or Intellivision. To my knowledge, they don’t even know what Ring-o-levio means. But we can do our best to teach them. The truth is, we don’t have to worry about our kids and their play habits all that much. The imagination of a child doesn’t just disappear into thin air and I don’t think it’s something that has been happening over time like the slow melt of the polar ice caps. The world we live in has changed. Just like our parents thought it changed when we were kids. I swear I can still hear my father waxing poetic about the good old days, when stoopball was the ultimate form of entertainment. It still makes me want to turn up my KISS records in defiance.
Every generation it just gets a little more outlandish. The kids get a little more ADD and the parents become a bit more indifferent to the core of what’s missing most in our society these days. Family values are becoming just a bit blurry. I don’t want to sound like the RNC or anything but the next time your kid yells at you because you wouldn’t take her American Girl doll to the beauty parlor, don’t get yourself in a tizzy. Instead, try to give her some old fashioned family fun to chew on. Maybe a board game, some bowling perhaps. Even a trip to the local roller skating rink would be a nice alternative. Heck, go on EBay and bid on some shrinky dinks. Let’s put the F back in Family. We owe it to ourselves and our kids to slow it down a bit. Try to make the time we spend together more important than the toys they play with. If we don’t teach them, who will?
That being said, I’m going to go downstairs and hit the Xbox 360 for a bit and blow the snot out of some aliens on my flat screen, plasma TV, before I go to bed. Sorry, it’s the least I can do. I’ve had a hard day and before I know it, I’ll once again be… Out-Numbered.