Sunday, June 6, 2010

Commuter Kids

This is going to be one of those posts. One of those posts that start with an, “In my day…” and then ramble on about how things have changed for the worse. So here it is. In my day, school did not give kids back problems. What, you say? You do not see about what I am getting? Did you try imaging it with the most crotchety voice you could imagine? Still nothing? Well, I guess I will have to spell it out for you.

I have noticed that kids these days seem to be carrying so much more to school. I remember schlepping a backpack full of books and folders or a Trapper Keeper to school, but it was not that heavy and not much of a burden. But I see the children in the neighborhood walking to school in the morning, and they are wheeling their backpacks to school. That is correct. Wheeling their backpacks. Like a carry-on suitcase. And the bags are full.

This made me wonder. Why in the world do children need to carry this much stuff to school? And the answer seemed intuitive. Several decades ago kids did not need to carry thirty pound schoolbags to school. There was no need. You had your own desk at school or a locker, and you put your stuff in your desk or locker. That way you just brought home your homework. And if you were in grade school, it was not a lot of homework, and it certainly was not a lot of books and paper. So what are these kids bringing back and forth to school? Certainly not textbooks. How many textbooks does a third grader have and how much homework is he getting that he needs to bring home all his books every day?

I think that most of what is in these grade schoolers’ bags are school supplies. All the stuff that they need for school projects is being ferried back and forth each day. The thing is that there has not been a great revolution in school supplies. Everything is pretty much the same. Markers, colored pencils, paints, scissors, erasers, paper, you name it, it is pretty much the same. But when I was a kid we kept all that stuff at school in our desks. I do not think this is the case these days. I do not think very many kids at all leave their supplies at school. I do not know if it is because kids have more homework that require these supplies at home. Or if theft is more of an issue these days that few people leave anything in their desks at school. But whatever the reason, kids are carrying more to and from school.

This has created an epidemic of back trouble in kids. So much so that there are now backpacks with retractable handles and wheels made for kids. I cannot tell if some of these kids are going to school or a conference in Denver for two days. If I was a latch key kid, these are the commuter kids.