Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kids Don't Change

I've written about the kids in my mother's neighborhood before. They are out, every Sunday, playing jumprope or kickball in the streets. You have to hold up a few minutes, sometimes, while they run their bases, but they get out of the way sooner or later. There are some in the neighborhood that saunter down the middle of the street, daring you to hit them, or making you go around.

While this infuriates some, it makes me smile.

Years ago, when I was barely into adulthood, and hadn't yet had a child, I sat talking with Aunties around a kitchen table. My Aunt Joyce said something that struck me then, and has stayed with me since:

"Kids never change," she stated, adamantly. "Cars change, technology changes, circumstances change, but kids don't change."

She would know; she had 8 of them. The oldest of them were coming of age in the late 60s; the youngest in the mid 80s. Yes, she raised teenagers in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Were her tactics any different for the youngest, than they were the oldest?

I'd wager not. Her household rules did not change. Her moral guidelines never waivered; and her love for each of her kids was steadfast.

It hit me then, that when I had my own child, that I probably couldn't go wrong by following her lead, and of course, that of all of my Aunts and Uncles, and of my own parents. Ultimately, there really is nothing to fear. Love them. Guide them. Pay attention to them.

***

I smile, then, when I have to stop my car for these kids in the street. We were once those kids, halting kickball games when someone yelled "CAR!!!!" I can tell you the names of the boys that would insolently, in 1975, take their sweet time getting out of the street, sometimes even smacking your trunk when you drove by. I can tell you who the "bad" girls were. We were grits and nerds and bookworms and beauty queens, playing jumprope and throwing rocks at each other (see this scar on my lip?)

I walked down my Mother's street, a few weeks ago, and asked these little girls if I could practice my photography. They squealed with delight, watched the camera instead of the ropes, and tripped up repeatedly. "Am I making you nervous?" I asked, and laughed as they sang in no uncertain terms, "Yes!" I told them I'd leave then, and got a chorus of "No! no, stay!"





Their mothers sat outside with the younger children, and the girls accompanied me to their front step. Those Moms gave me suspicious, questionable looks until I told them that I was trying out the sports lens on my camera, and I'd bring back prints of their kids in a week, if it was ok with them. I told them, "I don't want you to think I'm some kind of weirdo."

They fell about laughing, admitting that were wondering if I was some kind of weirdo, and were readying to get over and ask me what I was doing. Good for them.

***

I recently happened across another blog that had an open letter to 15-year-old skateboarders. It was a condescending and hateful commentary about their hair, their clothes, their parents, and their homes. It upset me so much that I deleted it from my subscriptions immediately, and I don't remember the name of the blog. If I did, I'd return to the post, and comment:

"HEY, Dumbhead," I'd say, "Try this! Try saying `Hey, kid! Cool skateboard. How long did it take you to learn that?!' or `Love the green hair; wish I had the courage to try that!' "

That's what I'd tell 'em, I would, and I'd tell them "I'll give you one whole dollar if you don't make a friend."

Because I still believe what my Aunt Joyce told me.


Kids don't change.

13 comments:

  1. Awesome. I love watching the kids jumprope. There's a huge team here... it's so cool!

    Looks like a blast & sounds like you ALL had fun...

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  2. We moved into our neighborhood three years ago and the sound of kids laughing, arguing, yelling at each other is one of the nicest sounds we have. Even better than the birds.

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  3. Way to go. You chose to ignore popular opinion and ignore what society told you. And for that you found something great. I'm with you.

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  4. Anonymous4:14 PM

    what a cute quartet of happy girls! sweet genuine smiles. that's the beauty of kids...they're genuine.

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  5. Great post, I could have easily grown up in your neighborhood ... we did the same things ... smack the hoods of cars as the passed, played with the dorks and beauty queens, jumped rope with three on a rope ... and for sure, had to be in when the street lights came on.

    Thanks for the reminder =)

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  6. Some things do change. If I'd taken those photos, I'd probably have been arrested 5 minutes later.

    Recently I came across a school yard full of kids playing games and thought it would make a great photo but had to stop myself.

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  7. nice work!! just popping in to say still out here reading your blog sister!!! you are amazing.

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  8. They made my day as you made theirs. Good stuff, GNG!

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  9. When I moved into my o'hana, about 3 years ago, the landlord's little boy and a playmate were playing outside my bedroom window. Daddy came along and told them not to do that because they would wake me up (I am a "day" sleeper). A day or two later I met up with the landlord, a really nice guy, and told him not to worry about the kids playing outside. It doesn't bother me and the sounds of kids having fun, in their secret adventures, is always relaxing. I actually sleep better when there are normal sounds going on.

    I am not disturbed by running, yelling, screaming kids but I do wake instantly if one gets hurt. That is a distinctively different sound.

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  10. Beautiful girls.. Thanks for sharing..

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  11. CB: shucks. thanks

    Wendy: These girls were mostly jumping barefooted, oh, the pain!

    Amishlaw: No 'lil kids in my neighborhood, but a few teenage boys that sing very loud with the headphones on, while they mow the yard. I love it.

    Over the Hill: Popular opinion can sometimes suck!

    Anon: These 4 were fun!

    Nancy: Didn't you hate going in just when the lightning bugs came out?!

    Dogbait: Unfortunately, I have to agree with you. I felt uncomfortable enough, and felt it necessary to approach their mothers. Too bad you have to pass up your photo op. Too sad.

    Hope! Hey, nice to see you! Yay!

    BostonP: Aw, thanks. Glad to make your day.

    Wil: I love that story, it's all so mutually respectful. What a gem of a landlord!

    2b&b: Yah welcome, darling (when you starting a blog?!)

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  12. I love the post. Yeah, we have to accept today's kids for their choices in style. I don't like all I see with today's styles, but I have to respect what they like. :) Beautiful kids!

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