On the street where I live there are children at play. From the window I see them and my heart smiles. I think back to my own yesterdays when I would race the wind on two wheels, my hair flying about like wings to guide me. Climbing trees and playing tag filled our afternoons as the sun kept watch. Dandelions were treasures bringing twinkling stars to my mother’s eyes. One, two, buckle my shoe, we sang the afternoons away. On bright red swings we tried to reach the clouds with little sandaled toes. Before the sun set on each day we were home, safe and surrounded by our family’s love.
Oh how these memories move me. I open the door to hear the laughter I know will warm my soul and find none. The rose-colored glass of memory I’d been looking through only clouded my vision to the reality of today. Nothing is as it once was. I watch and I listen, my heart aches as I stare helplessly into the face of the world.
The songs they sing have lost their innocence. Foul expressions spew from angelic lips. The little boys are playing handheld games of electronic war, do they even know war is real and ugly and sad? A gangly little girl in last year’s shorts twirls her hair for the old man next door and he watches her, too closely. I find myself in silent prayer.
Schools are as dangerous as the streets they wander. I wonder how many fear each day could be the day someone brings a gun. Too many little girls are pregnant, their childhood given to the care of another. When I was their age I played hopscotch and boys had cooties. Games and movies depict atrocities no child should be witness to, let alone see as entertainment. We played Mad-Libs and Chinese checkers.
I don’t know just when it changed or why. Society stopped watching and teaching and caring. Parents no longer parent. It’s not okay to tell them no anymore. Everybody has to win. If they fall they know someone will pick them up so there is no need to learn to rise. Bad choices are brushed off as mistakes, excuses are made for behaviors when discipline is actually required. Thankfully, there are still those who value the way things once were, the way they should be still. Glimmers of a life once lived still sparkle now and then. I wish it was enough. I want to look out my window and see what I see when I close my eyes.
Children no longer see the beauty in the dandelions they crush beneath their feet. Sometime after the sun goes down and only porch lights and the moon brighten the night, a father drives the block in a pickup truck yelling for his babies to come home for dinner. I hope they can hear him.
On the street where I live there are children at play, I wonder what they will remember when they drift off to dream of their yesterdays.
Crystal R. Cook
Ouch. I ache for your loss of how play used to be. It’s a weensy bit different on my street. The little girl delights in her skipping rope. Mom is in the front yard gardening. No signs of electronic play. However admittedly that’s on weekends only.
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