Children Before

I found a little treasure online recently – old photos of Ireland from the 30s and 40s, many of children finding creative ways to play. (I’m always hoping to find my father or mother as children among them.)

Many of their games would be considered offensive today (cowboys and Indians, pointing fake guns at each other) or just dangerous (swinging by a rope around the “May pole”, building boxcars and racing them down hills, leaning planks against first floor windowsills and climbing up them, etc.

Then I thought of children today who spend most of their time staring vacantly at TV screens or video games on computers. The streets are deserted, even on a Saturday afternoon. I have a terrible fear that we’re failing them, but don’t know where or how to start to correct it. Complaining feels pointless, like putting up a billboard on a road nobody travels anymore.

Human beings tend to know what they want, but not what they need, especially children. I wonder if vicarious, simulated adventure can take the place of real adventure, at all. Adults were better stewards of childhood once. Yeah, they were dirty, and they bumped their heads, skinned their knees, and broke bones more often, but they lived – with a capital L.