This woman I know, ex girlfriend from a long time ago (before I was married) calls me to relate her woes. She is divorced, too – and a single mom of a nine-year-old boy. She is also really struggling to make ends meet, financially – and (like me) self-employed.
She tells me about her son’s basketball games. These are torturous, never-ending, all-encompassing. As an example, she had to drive (well, she chose to drive) 90 minutes one way to attend three games on Saturday. One at 10, the other at 1 and the third at 3 or so.
Then another game on Sunday.
This schedule is typical. Always, a got-damned game. Hyper-scheduled, scripted and organized.
And then there are the practices.
The kids are kept perpetually busy at mindless athletic drills – the better to prevent them from thinking. And the parents kept perpetually exhausted.
Now, she’s broke, too.
And, like me, she is a freelancer, which means she runs her own gig. Which means she never clocks out. She tells me about a must-deliver deadline for a project early this week – and that she is wiped out and at the end of her rope.
I ask her why is she spending the entire weekend driving to this contrived, over-the-top mini-me NBA juggernaut? I ask her, which is more important – keeping food on the table and the mortgage paid . . . or four pointless, meaningless basketball games?
He’s nine. And not Michael Jordan, either.
It makes my teeth ache.
The kid – and he is not atypical – is never left alone to figure out how to entertain himself; it always has to be some organized/mass-social thing. Bussed to and from, strapped into the minivan.
Meanwhile, the kids hardly even know each other outside of games/practice. They are brought from all over, the game is played – as if a matter of life or death – and then a diaspora back to the ‘burbs.
The game forgotten as the next one rolls up on the schedule.
I asked: Why not explain to your son that mom has to work and give him some books to read or some chores to do (she hires a lawn service to deal with her 1/4 acre lot) or just let him do his own thing for a weekend? He’s nine – not a diaper-wearing toddler. The kid should be out exploring the woods, creeks, playing with his friends… .
The parents – neurotic about the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety of their offspring – helicopter hover over them literally 24/7 and well into their teens.
The kids are never free to do what they want, on their own.
And neither are the parents.
Helpless, dependent and cloying kids who have no idea how to do anything on their own – who expect to be told and led and entertained . . . by inevitably prematurely aged, beaten/defeated parents.
God help us all.
I am convinced that the Youth loves Bernie – that is, loves authoritarian socialism – because it is what they know. They were brought up to love it. To know nothing else. For them, independent action – liberty – is as unthinkable as letting a nine-year-old kid go for a ride – without a helmet! – around the neighborhood – and without his mom tagging along.
Does anyone remember?
As a boy of nine, I – like all my friends – wanted to get away from our moms. And we did. With their blessing. They wanted to do their own thing, too.
After school, on weekends, we jumped on our banana-seated bicycles with ape-hanger bars and took off, in gangs or alone. We’d explore construction sites, look for the left over wires from blasting caps and climb on the heavy equipment. Hunt frogs. Play a game of pick-up football we organized. The last thing any of us wanted was our parents around.
The worst imaginable insult a boy could endure was to be called a momma’s boy.
We’d be gone for hours. Until it got dark – and sometimes later. It was not cause for an Amber Alert.
We did not wear helmets, either. We jumped homemade ramps. We were not strapped into saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety seats like pint-sized Hannibal Lectors. We walked or ride our bikes to school. Unchaperoned. Sometimes, we’d ask the bus driver – who maybe smoked – to stop and let us off at a different stop. She would.
We’d run amok and get dirty and cut. No one cried for mom. Sometimes there would be a fight (just fists; this was pre gnomesayin’ days).
Above all, we’d be out doing our own thing. We were – at nine and even younger – proto-adults. Loose, free. Figuring the world out for ourselves. We developed habits of independence; we learned – through experience – what to do and what not to do.
Today, it seems all boys are momma’s boys – or being converted into them, whether by conditioning or pills. Soporific the boys, especially. A steady diet of Ritalin and Prozac cures all ills. If they fidget, they are “ADD.”
More drugs. Counseling.
My friend’s nine-year-old doesn’t even get to cut the grass – too dangerous! – and forget playing with his friends or exploring the boundaries of his neighborhood and see what’s out there unsupervised.
Meanwhile, the girls are bossy and imperious, hyper-social and organized. Proto Hillarys in yoga pants who will graduate, in time, to the pants suits that are their destiny.
It will not end well for either.
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