12. April, 2008 - in my day…

And that leads into today’s rant. How the heck are kids ever supposed to learn how to make smart decisions as adults if they’re insulated from the world and all decisions when they’re kids? I’m trying to avoid turning this into a “In my day, we ate lead paint and we turned out fine” rant, but we had a lot of freedom as kids. At age 10 or 11, a group of us were biking five miles in to school on nice days and shooting each other in the ass with bb guns on the weekends. At age 13, I had my own paper route, and I was late to that particular game. At age 16, I spent a year in Europe going to school. Sure there was some adult supervision, but a lot less than our parents figured. I was completely alone the night in Berlin when I was out taking night pictures of the lights along the Berlin Wall (I wish I could find those negatives), and was accosted by a mugger. I walked away from the encounter and he didn’t. Would I recommend that to everyone? No. But I would recommend the freedom to take the chance to get into (and out of) such a situation.

I see this around campus here in Minneapolis more often than I’d like. Kids who’ve been sheltered all through their deformative years get to college, and when they start needing to make decisions on their own, they go one of two directions. Either they remain timid, hoping that someone will keep them safe from all the bogeymen their parents told them about, or they get reckless, making decisions that seem stupid even in comparison to some of the drunk crap we pulled when I was in high school and college. The timid ones are afraid to even take a bus to a concert downtown, and miss out on a lot of the sorts of experiences you’re supposed to have during your college years. They’ve insulated themselves from huge swaths of reality. The reckless ones often end up screwing up far more elaborately than they would have if they’d had some experience screwing up (and talking their way out of trouble) as kids. The employment market for smart folks is still pretty good, but it isn’t so good that it’s easy to get a job if you’ve got a felony on your record.

The thing that worries me the most is that these people (and their overprotective parents) vote. And they vote while thinking thoughts like nobody should have a gun because I might get mugged, completely missing the fact that if you’re getting mugged, a gun might be a pretty handy thing to have, even if it does make loud noises and look a little scary. Or they think that we should have security cameras everywhere so I can feel safe when I take a cab downtown, even though we have a pretty safe downtown, aside from the possibility of getting harassed because you chose to cross the street in the middle of the block, and a security camera isn’t going to help in the slightest if someone menaces you halfway down the block and out of view of the cameras, or the camera catches you sparking some mooncabbage and you spend the night in detox. And the whole time, what they’re really thinking is nothing bad should ever happen to me, while something “bad” might be exactly what they need to <Red Forman voice>quit being such a dumbass.</Red Forman voice>

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rub some liniment on my lumbago and sit in my rocking chair yelling at the neighbor kids to get the hell off my lawn until these vapors have passed and it’s time to go play bingo or watch Matlock. Have a nice day, but turn down that infernal racket!

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:02:00.