January 26, 2014

Grumpy Side of 60 - Mother Nature and today’s generation

“It’s 32 degrees; feels like 22. Have a good day and enjoy the weather… that’s as warm as it’s going to get this week.”

That was Monday. A quick glance at the 10-day outlook confirmed the radio report… and as late as Thursday it was no different. Snow. Cold. Wind chills. No relief in sight. And it’s only the end of January. We still have February and March ahead of us.

One thing bothers me. Kids today don’t seem to enjoy Mother Nature’s white stuff like we did when I was a kid. I had a post-secondary student last year who kept hoping for snow. And hoping. And hoping. All she got was icy days where she had to struggle to get the car door open in the morning. Her classmates couldn’t wait until it warmed up. I can’t remember where she was headed to college, but I hope it’s somewhere she can enjoy this year’s snow.

Other than that? Pretty much zip. I’ve scoured the Greenville area more than once when there’s been snow on the ground. I saw a snowman on North Ohio once, but that was about it. No kids anywhere.

On Wednesday I went to Woodland Heights to see how the first graders were handling being cooped up inside during recess. No problem. They had games to play, art projects to work on, and several were huddled around one of the three computers and a notepad.

After that I had my public speaking class at Edison. Nineteen students, all but three were post-secondary. The others were recent high school graduates. In other words, all “kids.”

“So how many of you built a snowman?” One student raised her hand. “How many of you threw snowballs?” No one raised their hands. “So with all of these snow days, what did you do?”

“Sleep!!”

“All day?” They didn’t answer that, so I said “Facebook?” They grinned and most nodded their heads.

Since this was a speech class and it tied in with their next speech assignment, I told them a little story.

When I was their age, late 50’s and early 60’s, I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. Snow hit the ground in late October and didn’t leave until April. Temps seldom got above the single digits. There was no such thing as “wind child,” but in the plains states, wind was always blowing. Didn’t bother me in the least.

My buddies and I walked to school most of the time – it was only a couple miles – but we were typically late because we stopped to throw snowballs at any target we could find. Sometimes they were at girls we liked. If the girls liked us they would throw them back at us. If they didn’t like us they’d say things I can’t repeat here.

But if it was really cold… I mean blistering cold… we would actually eat our pride and ride the bus to school. Didn’t change our uniform of the day, however. We waited for the bus wearing the usual jeans jackets and blue jeans.

My students were incredulous. What can I say? We weren’t all that bright.

So are today’s kids smarter? There were a few holdouts but most came to class dressed for the weather. They didn’t walk… they had cars. And if the weather was brutal, they took advantage of a day off and slept. After that it was social media time.

So are they really smarter or have they gone soft in a different world? I know what they would say… soft has nothing to do with it. They aren’t dumb.

I think about those days as I bundle up and freeze going from my front door to the car. Today the cold bothers me a lot. The difference between today’s generation and mine?

About a half century.

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