Month: September 2018

Remembering Childhood

Remembering Childhood

Sometimes on Facebook, someone will post one of those lists showing how things have changed for kids today and how we survived growing up without bike helmets, constantly attending organized activities, etc. I usually go back in time momentarily, remembering what we called the “good old days”, and then move on to the next post. I remember when I was a principal how we often cancelled outside recess because of a certain temperature or wind chill, even though we certainly would’ve gone out when I was in school. A teacher in my building, quite a bit younger than me, made that same “back when I was young” comment while voicing her frustration when another recess was cancelled.

I was reminded of these thoughts while reading an article in an AARP publication about Tommy John, the former MLB pitcher who is better known for a surgical procedure than being a four time All-Star. He wrote about all of the kids in sports today who seem pushed into committing to one sport, which they play exclusively and extensively, almost as if they’ve begun their “career” in their teens, often leading to serious injuries. His solution is for kids to participate in different sports and not rush choosing one to concentrate in. The bigger picture for me goes beyond sports, that we seem to have forgotten what childhood is. Do kids know how to just “play”? Do they always have to be directed and organized by adults? For that matter, is this what kids want or do we, as adults, force it on them? I don’t really have answers to these questions, but I really do miss the good old days.

Jim

Dear Frank, I hope you’ve had a good life.

Dear Frank, I hope you’ve had a good life.

Back when I was in my early 20’s, I did the backpacking in Europe trip that young people often wanted to do. This would be in the late 70’s and I guess, in some ways, I cheated. You see, I had relatives in Oslo, Stockholm, and on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea whom I visited so I wasn’t totally on my own. I have great memories from that trip and several stories, but this is about Frank and those random people all of us meet and say goodbye to.

I began that trip by flying into Copenhagen and spending a few days in a hostel. There I met Frank, who was from South Africa, and he and I, as well as a couple of other guys, spent those days exploring the city. It was fun and Frank and I got to know each other as friends. When it was time to head in different directions, I thought of asking for his address so we could keep in touch, but decided it was a little weird. So, we both looked at each other awkwardly, said goodbye, and headed off to new places and new people. I think of Frank once in a while and others who I’ve crossed paths with. Not the individuals who I passed in hallways, or who I paid for groceries, but those who I got to know a little. I hope they went on to do great things. Mostly, I hope they’re happy.