Over the past year, I’ve thought up a lot of topics that I thought could make for interesting blog posts. (Really, it’s just a notebook filled with incomplete, haphazardly constructed lists of random words, phrases, and scribbles.) A topic that never really made the cut was about modern children, or as they say, “kids these days.” What inspired this topic a year ago was bitterness — only seeing kids wearing technological masks. I feel old for saying this, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m not old at all. I know that real adults all over the world are snickering at me right now. I can feel it.
But I miss those days. I don’t remember the last time I felt the subtle rush of anticipation when I had to wait until the next day at school to see and talk to my friends. I’m one of the few who still vaguely maintain participation in the United States Postal Service. In fact, I don’t know any of my friends who send personal letters via snail mail. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was sixteen. I didn’t get my own computer until senior year of high school. My prized possession throughout middle school was my blue Creative ZEN Nano MP3 player and then later my SanDisk Sansa Fuze, which I was glued to up until junior high when my brother bought me an iPod. (Video games were nonexistent in my childhood, and the gaming world is still a mystery to me, so I have no input on the evolution of gaming technology.)
Well, today I was out in my neighborhood riding around on a Penny board, and on my way back to my house, this kid approached me. He was carrying a longboard, and he said to me, “My parents said they saw someone skateboarding, so they told me to come outside.” He was a small-ish, skinny kid, but he had muscles on those lanky arms. I introduced myself, as did he, and we shook hands. So we started talking, sitting on our boards in the middle of the street. I found out that he was only thirteen, going into eighth grade. He told me that he really likes to draw and play video games. He told me about a strength training camp he’s going to. He told me about what his parents do and how smart his little ten-year-old brother is.
This whole time, I’m thinking, Wow, I don’t meet a lot of kids like him. But honestly, I don’t spend much time around kids anyway. I’m the youngest in my family and among most of my parents’ friends’ families. After leaving grade school, I really don’t know or talk to anybody that much younger than me. It’s always about my future, my career, about how school is going, about if I’m excited to turn twenty-one, about getting internships and jobs, about moving into my own apartment. It’s always about the stuff that I haven’t got a clue about.
It had been getting late, but he seemed to actually enjoy our conversation. He said that he and his mom went to iFly to try indoor skydiving. He said that when he was in fourth grade, his robotics team won second place in a competition. He said that he climbed the world’s tallest climbing wall (not fact-checked.. haha). He said that he likes all the scariest rides at Six Flags, how his cousin would get scared and scream super loud, and he would just shut his eyes.
And then he said this, “After I finish college, I’m just gonna go adventure. I don’t think I could live a boring life.”
When I was thirteen, I didn’t even know what college was, much less know what I wanted to do some ten plus years down the line. He changed my perspective on “kids these days.” Yes, most of them are ignorant and “don’t know any better” because they are, essentially, children. But having such a real conversation with someone so young, seeing those ambitious eyes that I am only just now trying to embrace, was just so strange and refreshing. It was inspiring me, so I left him with this: I told him to hold on to those things that make him happy, like drawing and skateboarding and video games. I told him that his adult life will be whatever he chooses to make of it. If he wants to go adventure, then he’ll go adventure. Simple as that.
And I should really take my own advice. As should you, reading this. I think that this kid has, at a mere thirteen years, figured out the fundamental basis for a positive and exciting life, a certain wanderlust that will allow you to go wherever your heart desires.