When I was a kid, my friends came over or I went over their houses. Sometimes orchestration was involved, and sometimes we just showed up at each other’s doorsteps.
Sometimes I ate dinner at their houses, and sometimes they ate dinner at mine. We always had whatever was on the menu. We didn’t have to make a special trip to get some pizza or do something spectacular. Usually we ended up in the kitchen getting lessons on cooking or table placement or life.
We got to know each other’s families. Sure, we spent some of our visits holed up in a bedroom, but more often than not, we played outside if it was nice or inside if it wasn’t. That meant that we interacted with parents and siblings and friends of siblings. I had one friend in particular that I felt like part of their family, because I spent so much time with her parens and her brother and her brothers’ friend.
We had family game nights and tv nights movie nights all the time. We had them so frequently, as a matter of fact, that we didn’t feel like we had to label them as events. We just sat around and watched the same tv shows and played cards and watched movies. Sometimes I did this with my family, sometimes I did this with my friends’ families.
I know I lived a blessed life then. I know for many people my reminiscences were not the norm. I live a blessed life now, too.
But I feel bad for my children.
My children have playdates, completely orchestrated by the adults in their lives. Because these playdate require so much planning, food and fun become part of the planning. My children don’t spend any time in anybody else’s kitchens learning about life and dry measurements. Nor do they know the joy of walking to a neighbors house and knocking on the door to see if so-and-so can play. Nope. We drive across town to a friend’s house where they participate in organized activities and eat special meals.
I’m not mad the world has changed. Well, at least I’m not attempting to express anger in this specific writing moment. I’m just sad my kids, and other kids, are becoming ever more isolated in a world so preoccupied with connecting.