While sitting poolside on what might possibly be the last such opportunity this year, I was surprised to see the whole gang of my son’s “colleagues” from our street also show up. Although it’s only been three or four months since I’ve seen them, the changes in the individual selves and their group dynamic seems great. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the United States, the change that predominates is the drastic gaining of weight.
Gone are those sweet little kids who would beg and plead until I gave in and took them on a bike adventure. Those innocent, smiling children, giggling uncontrollably to my silly stories and quirky catch phrases replaced instead by sullen and too easily bored pre-teens too self-conscious in front of their peers to exhibit any politeness or courtesy. These once swift and seemingly spring-loaded children are now already showing the unhealthy results of sloth: too many rolls of fat on backs and bellys, clumsy and labored movements in their limbs and the loss of any semblance of a neck. Even the chubby but always cheerful kid is starting to show a bit of a battered ego coming through in his personality.
I am saddened by their loss of any loyalty towards each other, with their friendships seemingly only based on their interest in using/consuming the material possesions of another: bike, gun, game controller or rated R movie.
This quality became obvious to me in a disturbing manner; seeing what little regard these children had for my son when he slipped and hit his head. Not only did not one of them come to help him or see if he was okay, they did not even stop their fun for a second to see what all the adult commotion was about. Are children supposed to be this way or are the parents and our “village” failing them?
In trying to compare this my childhood, the only concrete example I could think of was an incident when I was 11. My buddy accidentally stepped on a 2X4 with rusty nail which became embedded well into his foot far enough that he was afraid for me to pull it out. I held him around the shoulders while he hopped all the way home, explained the situation to his parents and came by the next day to see that he was okay. Maybe it was only the fact that no adults were around that made me act this way.
I suppose this is just anxiety about the approaching teenage phase of my son’s childhood with much worrying about him being able to take care of himself and hopefully get by with a little help from his friends.
Also, I’m a little sad about having to have my tallest pine tree cut down.