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Monday, June 4, 2012

Summertime Toss Back

Then

When the days pour forth like a pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid, and playful shouts float into opened windows, alerting mother’s of their litter’s location, and disturbing old man Sullivan from his afternoon nap—then you know that it’s summertime.

Mr. Sullivan shuffles out to the back yard, stewing over his lost sleep, and finds his throne: an old metal chair placed beneath an ancient oak, where he will simmer as he waits to exact revenge.

Gary, a shy kid with high hopes, is up to bat. Eyes roll as he mimics a pro’s stance. Undaunted, he knocks one out of the yard, which gains him some momentary praise, until the ball thuds down in forbidden territory. Mr. Sullivan smiles as he imagines another ball on his mantle, his collection of home runs hit over his privacy fence, rewarding Rocko, his stealthy Rottweiler, with a “good boy” and a pat, for another drooly fetch, leaving a mob of scabby-kneed kids annoyed with Gary—now waiting in vain for a toss back.

Now

When the days drag on, one looking much the same as the last 364, from within vaulted homes closed tight against the heat, air conditioners hum, simulating cooler seasons, and electronic devices turned domestic, e-sit chubby children unaccustomed to sunshine and exercise—then you know that it’s summertime.

Gary spends his summer days alone while his single mother works. He has never hung out with the kids in his neighborhood. Sometimes he sees them at school but it usually takes the entire school year for him to warm up to them. During the summer he loses touch with his new friends, as most of them either stay inside or get farmed out to summer programs, resurrecting Gary’s shy nature, and forcing him to start the awkward experience of making new friends all over again come fall.

Mr. Sullivan stands alone by his open window looking out onto his silent neighborhood. He hears the birds singing, and the traffic passing by, but none of this stirs him. His mantle is bare of sandlot trophies, his lawn immaculate, and his dog slumbering. Turning away from his window, he pauses and mumbles, “Where the hell are all the kids?”

Sing it Stevie

34 comments:

Jan said...

So very accurate of the kids today. Although with my second run through as a mother I am very pointedly removing electronics from the children's lives. They do ride their bikes, toss footballs around and heaven forbid; play in the sprinkler. I am blessed that I have them and that I don't have to work outside the home...I did the first time, a fiasco that turned out to be.

KMJ Liming said...

Beautifully worded and unfortunately truthful.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

A great piece to illustrate your point, Leah. I used to love hearing the kids playing in the backyard when they were younger. I definitely knew it was summer then. :)

JANU said...

So true...wonderfully expressed.

Ravenmyth said...

Leah, sad but true. I am looking after my 3 grandchildren and seeing the affects of what you are talking about. I also notice there are no kids playing outside on a warm summer day. Electronics have become babysitters and the kids are addicted. When you tell them to go out and play, they do not know what to do anymore and when you talk to them they are so focussed on the games, they do not hear a word you say. I have been taking away the computers, I phones, I pods etc...after a few days...voila...they speak...great post Leah...how did we let it get this far? Where are the parents...?...Always...

Cheryl said...

Just one of the many changes that our society has morphed into "being the norm". How did things get so convoluted.

Now when we do let the kids go out to actually play we have to never turn our backs because of the crazies that could harm them.

Stephen Hayes said...

A beautifully written indictment of modern kids in today's society.

Nikky44 said...

my 15 years old girl :(
No friends, not going out at all. She spends her days at the computer, reading or listening to music

Lynn Schneider said...

I think of this so often, how kids now are glued to iPads and XBoxes instead of playing outside together, getting exercise and making real friends. I liked this very much. It made me think old Mr. Sullivan liked the sound of kids playing more than he realized.

Authentic Imperfection said...

Things have changed so much. It's not just children. Neighbors are no longer neighborly alot of the time. Of course, alot of us move much more often than we once did which may be part of all of this.

The one plus. My son, while he was young spent lots of time with his step dad and I. We camped and golfed, hiked, rode motorcycles,talked and shared in ways, and at a time in his life when we might not have been doing that if he were out in the neighbor'hood' with kids. We are still doing many of things today when we can.

Leah Griffith said...

Jan, I was lucky enough to be able to stay home for the early years of my kids lives. Nintendo came on the scene but computers were not a part of their experience. I don't know how parents do it these days with having to both work and the great internet being every where waiting to influence their babies.
I'm glad I don't have small children.

Leah Griffith said...

KMJ, thank you for the read and the comment. Yes it is sad but true. I'm wondering what they could possibly come up with next? LOL!

Leah Griffith said...

Karen, there is a magic to that sound...kids voices mixed with chirping birds, airplanes overhead, and the ice cream truck singing!

Leah Griffith said...

Janu, I feel bad for the kids these days as they are missing out on discovery. I used to spend hours catching grasshoppers just for the fun of it. I always let them go;)

Leah Griffith said...

Raven, those grandchildren are so blessed to have such a connected granny. You have so much to show them now that you have them unplugged. <3

Leah Griffith said...

Cheryl, that is so true. I was going to mention that in the post but then it got so long that I figured that that topic would be a post of it's own. The stranger danger is very real. We hear the nightmarish stories on the news every day. It's as though our children are being backed into a corner...so sad.
Thanks for your thoughts Cheryl—as always insightful.
XO

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Stephen;)

Leah Griffith said...

Nikky, I feel for you girl. I think getting them interested in something that they can excel at is a good way to distract them from the electronics. Of course 15 yr olds can be hard to persuade, what with them knowing everything;)

Leah Griffith said...

Oh yes Lynn, poor Mr. Sullivan has nothing to look forward to. I think we all had a "Mr. Sullivan" in our pasts.
It's sad how much the children are missing out on. Old school ways were golden. I'm sounding like an old fart aren't I? LOL!!

Leah Griffith said...

Leslie, it sounds like you and your husband are really active people and that tends to spill over onto the children.
My kids got to travel to some unique places and experienced playing outside when they were little. From 12 on they turned more towards the TV and Nintendo, although looking back on it now I have a faint memory of some Mario Brother playing on my part too. That shit is addictive! LOL!

Debra said...

How sad is this! Just sad isn't it?
But the writing is perfect. You show.

Do you live in NC Leah? We might be neighbors ;-) You never know.

Leah Griffith said...

Thanks Debra, yes it is sad.
I'm visiting in the Goldsboro area. I used to live here for many years. Where are you?

J. R. Nova said...

Just wow! Thanks for posting this, Leah. I'm sharing it.

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

Oh, how I long for those long summer days of kickball and swimming and biking, for the exuberant shouts of children playing outside, for evenings filled with catching lightening bugs and tag in the dark . . .
Will those days ever return?
What nostalgia here, Leah, so masterfully expressed. I can see Cosette playing outside . . .
Love and blessings, my friend!

Tameka said...

Sign of the times. So very true. Kids have forgotten how to be kids it seems. In my neighborhood I do see children at the park so all is not lost, but we all need to get outside much more than we do. Great piece Leah and the pics brought it home.

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Farfalla Dreams said...

WOW! Great write and very true!!! Technology and crime have kept kids indoors. Children are becoming more and more isolated and not really knowing how to interact with others?! So sad!!!

Leah Griffith said...

JR, I'm glad that you enjoyed it—Thank you for sharing!

Leah Griffith said...

Being a kid was all about being outside. During the summertime we stayed out well into the night. Of course we stayed in front of the house, but it was still a blast.
Thanks for your always sweet and touching comments Ms. Martha.
Love!!

Leah Griffith said...

Thanks Tameka! Yes, even if it's only in the back yard at least they're getting some air and sunshine. I feel bad for the kids these days, they're missing out on so much.
Sending love!

Leah Griffith said...

Farfalla, yes it is sad. People in general seem to have become much more isolated...
Thanks so much for your comment!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Very artful writing, I'm probably as guilty as those kids when it comes to favouring technology over outdoors. A good reminder to take the dog for a walk!

melissa said...

Sorry, I was not able to visit right away, I was out with the kids :P

Well, I could still see children playing around on summerdays. It's the adults who lack sunshine :P

Leah Griffith said...

Hi Charmaine, I try to get out of the house for a walk every day. It's amazing how it centers me. Children need our guidance on how to live, including teaching them how to love and respect nature.
I have two Chihuahuas that I take for walks. One of them drags her feet—refuses to walk. It's the funniest thing to see, this 3lb Chihuahua straining at the leash, as if she were strong enough to pull me back to the house! LOL!

Leah Griffith said...

LOL! Melissa, you are so right! Kids copy their parents. Sending love girl!

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