Saturday, November 14, 2009


As I sit here on, what started as a quiet Saturday morning, I am reflecting on how drastically our times have changed since I was growing up.

I live in a neighborhood of older homes in Louisville, Kentucky. It is much like the neighborhood in Springfield, Missouri that I grew up in. It is a mixture of blue collar workers, single 30 somethings, couples just starting out and some retired folks sprinkled in the mix. Generally, a quiet neighborhood on a street without through traffic.

Suddenly, my peaceful Saturday morning repose is startled by yelling in the street. I am surprised by the response this brings in me. For a moment, I am tense, all systems alert at a danger that might be passing by. The dogs go crazy barking adding to my angst. I tiptoe to the window to sneak a peek at what mayhem might be happening in my front yard. It is a group of four teenagers walking down the middle of the street talking loudly to each other, cussing, shaking their fists in the air. They look threatening. They are today's youth. They look like a street gang, although they don't dress any differently from many of the youth I see here. They have tattoos, they are only in their teens and they have tattoos. They have body piercings. They have stretched their earlobes to accommodate large metal rings. They will look this way when they are in their 80's.

Now I reflect on the youth of my day...the 1970's. We had self-expression, we were rebels in our own right.(I pierced my ears, for Pete's sake, we also used terms like "for Pete's sake" and who the heck is Pete, anyway?) But we also had a little thing called "respect". If there was a group of teenagers walking down the street yelling and cussing, they were something to be worried about. It just didn't happen. I'm not saying that we never cut loose and were loud and obnoxious, but it wasn't in broad daylight in the middle of the street where all of the neighbors could see who we are! They would have been on the phone to our parents before we could have made it to the end of the block. And maybe therein lies the problem. I know my neighbors on each side of me but I don't know anyone else on the street. These kids could live on my street and I wouldn't know it. We have lost some of our feeling of community. I have often thought about having a "get to know your neighbor" party in the front yard on a Friday evening but my fear is, would anyone come? Does anyone really want to know their neighbor?

So, I guess we, as a community, have created these kids. They have no fear of repercussions for their actions. Is it self-expression gone wild, or just apathy on the part of the parents. I often wonder how my child would have turned out had she been raised in this environment. It's something to think about...


  1. You're right in seeing that the sense of community has diminished in our culture today. I doubt anyone would make an appearance at your neighborhood gathering but seeing as you live in Louisville, KY...I bet a fifth of bourbon would bring out at least six blocks worth of housing.

    As for the kids--well that's today's form of rebellion. Rules were more conservative in your day therefore the things you did seemed outrageous; I'm sure you took part in some events that would make maw maw crawl out of her skin (of course these don't need to be mentioned). Your generation paved the way to make ear piercing, cussing, drugs..etc.. more acceptable. Now the youth of today has to find something ELSE in which to defy society. So I guess they take all of these things to the next level; bigger piercings, louder expletives, and a noticeably rebellious statement.

    That's not to say that you aren't correct in your assumptions of our youth's demise. Too much TV and violent video games. Not enough parental involvement in children's lives, and definitely no emphasis on community.

    If you might remember-- I was once on the track to become one of these teens on your street. I was going to the skating rink with my balls of steel and jnco jeans. I wore belly shirts, makeup, fake tatoos and dreamt of bad boys that smoked cigarettes and knew how to french kiss. I learned all my swear words on the school bus filled with hidden valley/pig farm kids. I'm surprised to have made it out of Etowah considering 99% didn't, but I think it was good parenting that set me apart from the rest. I do give myself a little credit considering I had a desire to learn and progress but you and dad always instilled that sense of community that was necessary to adapt and grow.

    It's unfortunate that there are so many "eckerd camp" situations and the best thing you can do is get involved in some way. YOUR generation needs to work with OUR generation--fill in the gaps. Music seems to be the strongest bridge within the two, and I've been banking on that fact for as long as I can remember.

    So thank you for being a good mother and don't loose hope in the youth because they will carry you when you're old....scary huh?
    There will always be rebels...and where there are rebels, there are saints.

  2. I feel like the "in-between" response. I see these kids, I understand the gaps...but I tend to lean more on the parents in todays communities. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town where my mother was aware of the trouble I had gotten into at school before I had even gotten off of the bus.....and she was at work! I feared the neighbors seeing me do something inappropriate.....but I also FEARED my parents! They were the rule makers, the law enforcers, the buck stopped there! Today's kids do not have that same respect. So what if someone called their parents before they got to the end of the block....would they respect the discipline that their parents put on them? My guess is probably not. I see so little of the consistant parenting I grew up with anymore. Everyone is absorbed into their own little world, which is why our communities are broken up into households with little interaction amongst one another. We should all start by getting to know the kids of our neighborhoods. Afterall, they are the ones that we see out walking the streets.

  3. I agree, totally...I had a mom who stayed at home. She was always there when I got home from school. This sounds totally "anti-women", but I truly believe that the deterioration of our youth started when moms entered the workforce. And I'm not saying (AT ALL) that women should not work. Maybe men should not point is that someone has to pay attention to what their kids are doing. Be interested. It takes a huge committment on the parents' part to stay involved with their kids when both parents work. We come home dead tired from work, cook a meal, clean up the dishes and "little Johnny" wants help with his Algebra...he gets what little amount of energy we have left. He gets the leftovers. My vote is that the work day be the exact time as the school day. It's at least a step in the right direction. We would still have our chores to do, but at least we could do them with our kids. Tell me that the time period between when school gets out and when parents get home from work is not the time when a huge amount of kids get in trouble. Many are unsupervised and left to their own devices. I'm not saying this is a parental problem, it is a problem our society has created. Society hasn't made it important enough to spend time with our kids. I know you've seen it, we all have...children are begging for our attention.

  4. mommy mommy look at me! look at me! or at least skype me darnit!

  5. I too grew up in a neighborhood of kids of all ages, single parents, retirees and a mix and blend of different colors. We had our moments but when we passed by or was approaching adults we quited (if that's a word) down and made whichever one of us was acting out quit down also if not we called them out. Oh, about the block party...check with you local police division and find out what the rules or for closing off your block, send out a flier to find out who is on board with you I bet you will be surprised it could possible be the start of a blockwatch party. Not only will you get to know your neighbors but possibly will find out who the gangbangers or everyday high school kids were walking down the street...Hmmmmm