The Sabinal River is still flowing clear and strong despite lack of rain and 100 F heat.
Another letter from my 90-year-old friend in Australia; her life experience is broad, and it seems all through it she has been attentive and remembers every detail. I read them over twice, sometimes, full of local doings there in Moree (NSW) and memories of England. She was a Land Girl in WW2, married a man who became the governor of NSW, traveled the world with him, has two active and interesting daughters and sons-in-law, grandchildren — I would repeat some of the stories but I don’t have permission. At any rate, she was a land girl on one of the Royal Estates and remembers meeting the young Princess Elizabeth. Remembers seeing the layered banks of bombers going overhead toward France on D-Day and gave me a full run-down on her neighbor who is an Aborigine who volunteered to fight in Vietnam and makes good whiskey which he brings occasionally to her daughter and son-in-law next door.
An interesting blog — Metallicman, Growing up in the Sixties. Love reading it. The usual curmudgeonly complaints about ‘young people’ (millenials?), which we have noted and read about many times now and most of them justified; one example is the girl who misspelled ‘hamster’.
So here is my take; increasingly kids are not really socialized. They are different. They have no people skills. These are people who have grown up on a lighted screen, watching. bodies still and inactive, perhaps sitting with other children but all the children’s attention is elsewhere, staring straight ahead at the screen. They do not interact with the other children around them in any significant way.
They ignore or do not see expressions of impatience, boredom, they are not learning to read another’s eyes, expressions, body language, tone of voice. They are not doing things together.
This would be absence of lateral interaction.
Kids normally socialize themselves. If they have rational and decent parents they will interact freely, without adult authority, and socialize themselves. They make up games and pretend situations and take them very seriously. Those who break the rules are shunned or chased home, or they don’t play with the rule-breaker any more because they know the game is done if anybody can break the rules any time they want. Then the fun is over.
You have to stay in the imaginative world or go home; then it’s ‘we don’t want to play with Johnny anymore’. And they don’t. That’s kids socializing themselves, finding out who will ‘play’ and who will not, who will ruin everything, who will add to the imaginative world and the game. There are little power plays, little negotiations, and when it’s all boys, they learn the rough-and-tumble conflicts and how to work those conflicts out.
Riveted to the television, your mind does nothing imaginative but only consumes. And kids are raised staring at the screen, seeing only the screen, not interacting with one another. With phones, of course, all skills of interacting with other people are down the drain.
And so after some years they don’t know how. The only thing they know is that an adult authority will make them behave like civilized beings. Adults, the law. When those constraints are lifted they are at a loss. When they talk together they talk about consuming things, not doing things.
These are huge generalizations and I am properly ashamed of myself.
‘Consuming’ includes going to music concerts, watching filmed dramas, buying stuff.
I often hear younger people talk about their childhood memories and it’s all about the television programs they watched. The wonderful characters on the Saturday morning cartoons. That was their childhood. How incredibly sad. Luckily my grandchildren (and many more younger people that I know) were chased out of the house by their parents to do things by themselves, fortunate kids.
Old people’s childhoods; you have heard all these stories before and at length. But here’s more. We made play houses, swings, fell out of trees, adopted stray animals, pretended to live on another planet, and one glorious afternoon found a long slope and several old used tires, and got inside them and rolled each other down the hill. It was suicidal. My cousin Maggie Self said it would be lots of fun.
The thing was, just prior to the brilliant idea about the tires, Maggie and I and some other girls had just made a kind of play house, with lines scored in the dirt to mark the walls, all sorts of junk for dishes and doors carefully left as openings in the lines and you had to go out the door or else. No stepping across the wall lines! Then we abandoned the house temporarily for the tire idea. It took three of us to stand the tire upright with Maggie in it, and hold it steady, and then give it a shove down the slope.
Maggie went barreling down the slope and struck a tree. She survived, but she rolled right through our ‘house’. Screams of indignation. Junk flying everywhere. Then it was my turn but just when I struggled inside the tire, and they had me upright and ready to go, something else even more interesting occurred (I don’t remember what) and they dropped me and went off to see about it. So I never got to take that wild ride down the slope.
When I got home from school I couldn’t wait to go out and find the other kids and start something. I don’t remember any television programs at all when I was in grade school. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that we got a TV. So my mind is different.
And when we did get one they were crummy images anyway. Black and white, ick. The world was full of color outside. Now the images are startling, they are hyperreal. And my heart breaks when I visit young married friends, with their kids sitting in front of an immense monitor the size of a barn door with these glowing perfect pictures, their little eyes round as dollars, not being themselves, only a receptacle for the images that distant studios make and pour out.
So. millenials and those who come after them are not going through the normal socializing process that all children on earth have gone through up to now. Playing together with no adult around to be the authority kids learn how to work things out, interact with one another, a kind of genuine, organic politeness, do negotiations, live in their own imaginations. But without this kids aren’t really socialized. And this is why so many display a kind of emotional incontinence, outrage at any contradiction, inability to figure out how things work, and other stuff.
Short story; Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury. He got the idea by seeing his daughters playing out in the street and yard with the other kids.
(Gorgeous illustration by Steven Knudsen)
When I am traveling for book promotion a lot of people ask me ‘but what do you do, in a place that small and remote?’ What they mean is, what do you consume. What restuarants, bars, music events, shopping places, entertainment venues, are there? I think my friends Caroline Woodward and Jeff George probably get asked the same question.
But there is almost too much to do.
Well, there are three restaurants, no bars, no movie theaters, no shopping malls, etc. and I am very busy; too much so sometimes. Now, enough. I have to learn ‘Ring Them Bells’, as Kim is going to sing it and probably needs a little backup on the C whistle, and Evelyn and I are going to ride tomorrow during the cool hours, meaning I get up at 6 and load the golf cart with saddle, bridle, etc. and go get him out of the pasture, saddle up down there, ride on Evelyn and Pat’s 70 acres and hope he doesn’t act up since Brandy is in heat and my new horse Jackson is apparently livng in his imagination, and many times I simply long for days and days without seeing people or doing anything but writing.