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Kids these days …

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By RALPH HARDIN

Evening Times Editor ‘W hen I was a kid …” I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to one of my children. As a “history guy” I’ve kept a pretty decent inventory of my life so I usually have something to offer in the way of advice when one of the kiddos comes to me with something. I have a lot of fond memories of my youth and since I still live in the town I grew up in (and now live just around the block from the very house I grew up in and where my parents still live) there’s a lot of opportunity to share.

“I used to roller-skate down this street.” “I busted my knee trying to jump over that ditch on my bike.” “There used to be a baseball field where those apartments are now.” “The girls who used to live in that house were so pretty!” There are still even a few of my old neighbors who still live in the old neighborhood.

So, I’ve got a ton of “When I was a kid …” stories. They’re not all good ones. There’s “The kid who used to live there was killed in a motorcycle crash when we were teenagers.” There’s “The State came and took the kids who used to live there.” And there are more than a couple of “Wow, that used to be a nice house …” on a few streets.

Over the past few years, I’ve had a chance to see the “kids” my age grow up. We’re all in that 40-to-50 range now. There are guys I played ball with and girls I chased after on the playground who are teachers and bankers and plumbers and architects and coaches and nurses and all sorts of things. Some of them stuck around, but a lot of them left town in search of opportunity or greener pastures or for a fresh start or for whatever reason they had. I still keep up with a lot of them on the social media. My graduating class will be celebrating 30 years since we all donned our caps and gowns and paraded across the stage and into adulthood. I’ve heard a few preliminary plans … assuming we don’t end up in some delta variant lockdown later this year or something.

Most of us have got kids of our own. Man, some of us have even got grandchildren. That seems nuts, honestly. Even though my body tells me otherwise, in my head, I’m still around 30 and in my prime. But as I see my classmates and childhood friends on Facebook looking familiar but with grey hair or wrinkles or with a few more pounds since we last saw each other, there’s no denying it …

We are getting old.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Scroll through your Facebook page and you’ll see it’s full of old folks. Yes, the young whipper-snappers have largely abandoned Facebook for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or that fancy Tik Tok thing. Which is probably for the best because, sadly, if there’s anything that old people simply seem to not be able to stand is the “kids these days.”

You’ve seen the posts, I’m sure, where the old folks talk about how tough they had it back in their days. We’re no longer doing the whole “I had to walk to school in three feet of snow with no shoes, uphill, both ways” bit. No, now it’s about how we played outside instead of playing video games or how we drank from a garden hose instead of needing a bottled water. We hung our guns in the gun rack of our trucks out in the school parking lot and no one got shot. We went to church and didn’t let our pants sag and wow, was our music so much better than the trash they’re listening to now.

You hear about how kids these days have it so easy. Mom and Dad bought them a car, but you had to work after school bagging groceries to get one. These houses all have central air but all you had was a window unit, or maybe even just a fan. Kids these days have these thousand-dollar iPhones. We didn’t have no iPhone. We had a phone on the wall and you could only go so far as the cord would let you.

Man, it’s just a shame how much easier everyone has it now.

But … is it?

Is it really a shame? How? How is it bad that through the generations we have been able to make life easier? How is it seen as a negative that we can afford to provide things for our children that our parents had to sacrifice so much for or in many cases weren’t able to provide? Are we “spoiling” our children? Or are we actually honoring the hard work our parents (and their parents) put in so that we could improve our own place in this world … and in turn improve our children’s place in this world? How miserable a person do you have to be to see young people living and thriving and succeeding and be mad, bitter and jealous about it?

I’m actually pretty impressed with the “kids these days” and I can’t wait to see what they’ll pull off when they’re running the show.

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