When I was little, I remember playing on the playground in kindergarten, chasing my friends around playing “Peter Pan.” Katie D was Captain Hook (if you knew Katie D, you’d understand why she was Captain Hook…she made a perfect Disney villain). Matt and Eric alternated the roles of Peter Pan or Michael. And I, of course, was Wendy. We used to climb up the big, blue, twisty slide on the playground, sliding down singing “I can fly!” There was no violence or sword fights, and the only danger we ever faced was trying to run across the playground fast enough, without tripping on our untied shoelaces, to hide with the lost boys in the tree house before Captain Hook could capture us. We were young, innocent, naive, and carefree. We rocked out our jean oshkosh-b-gosh overalls, and wore pink hightops with mutlicolor dinosaurs. Pigtails and high ponytails were all the rage. It was a time long before the days of Spongebob, Wizards of Waverly Place, and iCarly. Our heroes and role models were Grover, Eureka, and Mr. Conductor. There was never any concern over us growing up to fast. We weren’t over scheduled and spent our school nights scraping our knees after falling off of our bikes.
Flash forward 19 years.
The playground innocence is gone. Kids run around the playground discussing who likes who, teasing one another, trying hard to hold their crushes hand. All at the tender age of 5, 6, and 7. There’s talk about “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” and the oshkosh-b-gosh overalls and dinosaur hightops have been replaced with super short shorts on girls, crop tops, and overally sexualized children.
Enter Friday on the playground.
Two of my children were playing vampires on the playground, thanks ever so much Twilight. Still cognitively unable to determine right from wrong, or realism from fantasy, one of these two children decided that she was going to bite the other on the arm (thank goodness it wasn’t the neck) because “she was the vampire, he was the human, and she had to because that’s what vampires do” and honestly thought that this was a legitimate reason for her choice.
Yeah, it was a simple game gone wrong, but still. What ever happened to the innocence of youth?