Photo courtesy of @iStockphoto.com
The Change of landscaping to the American front yard
My dad did such a great job on our front yard in the 60s and 70s. He would seed and fertilize it every year. And the grass around the circle of dirt we called a pitcher’s mound was so green! You couldn’t find a single weed on either side of the base paths we created during our baseball games! We can learn a lot just from looking at old photographs of a typical neighborhood from the late 50s to the early 70s. Back then there were ball gloves, kickballs, and frisbees everywhere. There were bicycles laying on the ground (no need for bike locks). There were basketball hoops and badminton nets, along with an occasional teatherball pole. In the backyard were croquet mallets, horse shoe pits, and maybe a tent was set up where the kids kept their Daniel Boone stuff. It was not the least bit unusual for you to drive down the street and see a basketball or football that had rolled down to the curb. They’d be there for a couple of days, until the parents told the kids to “Clean up the yard, before you come in.”
A childhood of greater freedom
Think of how freeing that was. Certainly for the kids, and even for the parents who could go about their day, knowing that there were games being played throughout the neighborhood. No worries about what the kids were doing. And for that matter, no worries about maintaining a manicured lawn, or the time and expense of having lavish landscaping.
Of course, today, if we see our neighbor’s kid hitting golf balls against the trunk of that tree in our front yard, we’re mortified. “Get out of here you nutball!” It really is true that there were a lot of broken windows back then; and yes, you really did get in trouble when that happened. But, so what?
The change of landscaping of America
Today, if you want to know about the changing landscape of America, you don’t have to look any further than the change of landscaping in America, where front porches have been replaced with elaborate backyard decks that are rarely used because everyone is too busy driving all over town to their ‘sporting events’.
The invention of organized games
‘Organized games’ are where you hand your kid a $160 baseball glove and a $300 bat and chauffeur him or her to a ball field that is only slightly nicer than Fenway Park. There you will find 2 umpires, more parents with cameras than there are players, and Mrs. Johnsen whose turn it is to provide after-game treats for the famished little athletes. Four assistant coaches are usually enough to insure that the kids will stay off their cell phones and politely thank Mrs. Johnsen for her efforts.
Five hours later, you pull back into your driveway and admire how pristine the front yard looks. “Honey, do you think the mulch is fading?”
Was all of this done intentionally?
Our change to organized games was not necessarily a good or bad thing, but was it made intentionally? Did we think about how this change would impact our lives, or did we just kind of follow along? Today, are we once again just following along with the latest trends? The trends of video games, and phantom football. Maybe it is time for us to take back the reigns of leadership; to be a bit more intentional and think about the best way to lead our children – the best way to show a good example. Maybe we should stay closer to home on Sundays. Cincinnati is a long ways to go for 2 groundouts and a pop-up to second base.