Sucking the Life Out of Childhood

When I was a kid, I spent my summers swimming in a lake, building rafts, manning a rowboat and zipping around in a speed boat, blowing stuff up with Zebras and cherry bombs, playing with animals of various sorts, and engaging (with zero skill) in sports and games, unsupervised by adults.

Youngsters nowadays are not so fortunate. Most of them are subjected to the soul-crushing conformity of nanny-state political correctness. How bad has it gotten? My wife was shopping in our neighborhood grocery store today, and noticed a display of games. Or, more specifically, flash cards. Click to enlarge pretty massively:


What we have here are “Good Citizenship” and “Respect the Earth” flash cards. They are meant to teach moral lessons, like Pilgrim’s Progress or the 19th Century McGuffey’s Readers. Only, if you actually look at the McGuffey’s, the children in them lived lives of rather wild adventure, by today’s standards.




Whereas the lessons on offer here are the thinnest possible gruel.

This is what constitutes good citizenship: “Give a thirsty dog some water.” “NEVER call someone names or use disrespectful language.” “Know the rules and follow them!” (It sounds better in the original German.) “Recycle!” and “Help by setting the table.” And the subtitle: “With every opportunity, be part of your community!”

Then we have the “Respect the Earth” flash cards. (“Don’t take your planet for granted!”) These include “Unplug chargers when not charging!” “Turn off the lights.” “Shop at farmer’s markets.” “Set the computer to power-saver mode.” “Don’t leave plastic on the beach!” and “Recycle bottles and paper.” So recycling is a twofer.

It is not clear that these are actually flash cards, in the traditional sense, or how one would play with them. But that is a moot point, since even the most craven six-year-old would turn up his nose at such boring stuff. At best, he would dump out the box and look for the choking hazard. Even the “eco-finger paint” or the “eco-crayons,” also visible in the photo, would offer more entertainment.

If there is a silver lining to this suppression of normal childhood, it is that the nanny-staters must be raising a generation of rebels. Any self-respecting kid would react vigorously, in the opposite direction, to such inept efforts at indoctrination. So maybe America is filling up with budding, six-year-old conservatives. I certainly hope so.