Oct 6, 2021–A generation ago, we kept chickens in cages and let kids “free range.” Today they’ve swapped places.

Kids today are over managed. A lot of it revolves around school.

Starting in Kindergarten, you got on the bus while it was still dark. You rode the bus for the better part of an hour. At the end of the school day, it brought you home and dumped you on the gravel road where you still had to walk up hill for a quarter mile to reach your house. For half the year, it was dark.

Today, good luck navigating the long lines of cars of parents dropping off children at the traffic circle of each campus, right up to high school.

Our parents didn’t care about what we did in school. There was no discussion. They just assumed you did what the teacher asked. There were no notes home. No parent meetings. No communication whatsoever between your parents and your teachers. You didn’t even see your teachers outside the school building. I didn’t know where they went. Seven-year-old me assumed they lived in the sub-basement next to the coal furnace that overheated the 150-year-old building.

Exhibit B: youth sports

There were no leagues then, little or otherwise. Soccer did not exist in America. Our town had baseball, but the only way I got to play one year was by having a friend who was an only child whose parents had time to take him. They put me at shortstop for some reason. All I remember is the other kids yelling at me to do something with the ball different than all the other kids were yelling. There was no coaching, no drills, no strategy. It was hit the ball, catch the ball, throw it to the kid yelling the loudest. And heaven forbid no sliced oranges or juice boxes after the game.

My parents never attended games. My mom came a few times when I was in 8th grade football when she had to take me to away games because the school didn’t provide a bus.

Before everyone feels sorry, stop: we kids of the 60s didn’t care. We had no expectation that mom and dad would be in the front row, cheering us on. I would have been embarrassed if they had shown up. They had much better things to do, like earn a living, keep house, handle livestock, take care of their eight other kids. They lived in grown-up land; we were in kid’s world.

That’s the way it was all through junior high, high school, and college. I cannot remember my parents ever helping any of us with homework. We wouldn’t have asked or expected it. School was our job.

Starting college, there was no decorating my room, no shopping for linens. On move-in day my dad literally pulled up to the curb in front of the dorm and let me out. Go Hawks.

Believe it or not, my parents didn’t even know when I graduated from college. It never occurred to me to tell them. My mom found out one day in June when she saw my diploma in the mailbox.

I must admit writing this today makes me feel a little guilty about that. But only a little. Not like the guilt you have today that makes you go to Kindergarten graduations.

While raising our own kids, I can’t count the hours spent shuttling them between Little Dribblers, T-ball, choir, band events, and endless, endless soccer fields scattered across the county. This was pre-cell phone. It was a burden even if I had loved soccer. I cannot imagine my parents doing that for any of us, let alone decorating locker rooms and preparing goodie bags for away games.

I’m not saying either way is better, just different. And rest assured, now that my own grands are on the cusp of T-ball and soccer, I’m sure I’ll be elbowing my way to the sideline, slicing oranges and handing out goodie bags.