Sunday, April 08, 2007

Time In

There is a growing problem in this country. And it's not limited to large cities, or the beltway, or the state of Utah. No, you can see evidence of it in the living rooms and backyards of Anytown, USA. It's the wussification of today's youth. Now there's no need to concern yourself with this word. It's a scientific term, basically meaning "the process of turning into wusses."

Allow me to spin you a yarn.

Yesterday I went into the kitchen to fix a bowl of Lucky Charms, a not uncommon occurrence in Bachelorville. I'll admit I was a tad excited when I bought them Thursday and saw the prize was a Spiderman water squirter. So one might think I was thrilled when I opened the box and found the water squirter sitting right there on top. Au contraire, monsieur. (That's French for "You must not know 'bout me.") I was dismayed.

When I was a kid, cereal prizes were located in the bag with the cereal. Crap plastic toys and fake tattoos were buried deep within gobs of sweetened, frosted, or toasted bits of corn and puffed wheat. To find the prize, you either had to pour out the entire box and get in trouble, or wait and hope with all your might that the prize would come out in your bowl instead of that of your siblings. It was like a little cereal lottery.

Or worse, there wasn't even a prize in the box. And you had to collect the dreaded proofs of purchase from three or four cereal boxes, then beg your mother to mail them in so you could get your hard earned prize. Three or four boxes! Do you have any idea how long that seems to the mind of a child? It was like waiting on four Christmases.

But today? Kids don't have to dig around or collect proofs of purchase. The prize is right there on top, handed to them, like everything else. And this is a perfect microcosm of what is wrong with kids today. But I don't blame the kids at all. I blame people like Big Cereal. Oh, and the trampoline industry, of course.

Among the most tangible signs of the wussification of kids are trampolines with those ten foot high vinyl and net walls surrounding them. That's not a trampoline; it's a playhouse with a bouncy floor. I don't understand. Was there a sudden spike in the number of trampoline tragedies beteween the time I was a kid and today?

When I was young, my parents didn't overprotect me with a fence and roof on my trampoline. Half the fun of jumping on a trampoline was getting caught up in the springs once in awhile and pinching the fire out of your leg, or jumping too high and banging your head against that steel rail. YOu do that a few times, and you don't need a protective wall. You'll stay real close to the middle.

Then there is the abundance of protective gear kids today have to wear to ride a freaking bicycle. I saw a little girl the other day riding a bike with training wheels on a sidewalk, wearing knee pads and a helmet. Most kids are so loaded down with safety gear, you could shoot them out of a cannon and they wouldn't get a scratch. If I had ridden my bike dressed like that, every kid in the neighborhood would have laughed me straight into therapy.

Aren't we being a little too overprotective? I mean, what's next? Soft foam padding underneath swing sets? Wearing life preservers and arm floaties in little one-foot deep plastic pools? Can you imagine growing up and never having to have stitches or a cool scar or a cast for all your friends to sign?

Kids can barely even get into trouble these days. What's with these washable markers? A kid marks all over their clothes or a wall in the house. So what? It comes right out. When I was a kid, we had permanent markers. Heck, we kept Heloise in business. Not only was the ink permanent, but the fumes were so strong, you could get brain damage from sniffing one too long. And again, I turned out fine.

So you parents might be saying, "Bone, you make some valid points, even though you have no kids and it doesn't look like that is going to change anytime in the foreseeable future. What can we do to help our kids?"

Well, don't take it from me, take it from this woman. Who I'd be willing to guess not only doesn't have kids, but probably hasn't even had a date in fifteen years.

You give your children a TIME OUT. According to this article, "It's important to not spank, hit, or slap a child of any age." (Um, were my parents the only ones who apparently missed that memo?)

"Bone," you may wonder, "How long should my child's time outs be?" Well again, referring to our resident expert, one minute for each year of age is a good rule of thumb.

Now, when I was in school, if I got a paddling, I knew I was going to get another when I got home. Imagine how much better I would have behaved if instead of a paddling, I had been given a ten minute time out. And knew that when I got home I was in for ten more minutes. I shudder at the thought.

Seriously, when I was a kid, if I got in trouble, I was the one wanting to call a time-out. And if I had tried to, I am only fairly certain my Dad would have immediately called time-in.

This whole situation frightens me. These are the bloggers of tomorrow we're talking about. I'm barely even going to be able to enjoy my Spider Man water squirter now.

"I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way..."


  1. Oh the poor bloggers of tomorrow.

    Having shared cereal boxes, and cracker jacks with many kids, I can safely say I don't know one who choked, let alone choked to death on the prizes.

    I did know many kids who lost a tooth to cracker jacks but that's why they were eating them--great way to get the baby tooth out

    Had no idea that trampolines were made with protective netting etc.

    The things I learn from you, Bone, can't be quantified :)

  2. I wonder if I'm the only person born in the 80's that clearly remembers sitting on her mother's lap as she drove.

    Wussification; I believe I've heard this term previously. Very technical. It was used in reference to the Toddler Leashes that have gained such popularity with new parents. The kid doesn't even have a chance to fall down, as soon as he starts to tumble - mom or dad jerks swiftly on the leash and the child is hoisted in the air!

    And as for your tramplining (also a very technical term), I can do you one better. We used to jump from our neighbor's roof onto the trampoline and then into the shallow end of the in-ground pool.

    It's a miracle I'm still with you today!

    GREAT post, Sir Bone.
    As usual, you bring to our attentions the growing problems in today's society. If it's not taxation, it's trampolization. What would we do without you? - - don't answer. I don't even want to contemplate it.

  3. And again, I turned out fine.

    I'm not too sure about that.

    I know some of what you are saying is in jest, but seriously, my last visit to the ER cost $200.

    Two. Hundred. Dollars.

    That does not include medication.

    So, bring on the washable markers, because I'm tired of replacing green-stained clothing. Bring on the floaties in the wading pool, because a child can actually drown in as little as one-inch of water.

    And as for time-outs and spanking, well, that's a whole different subject. I think there's too many individuals becoming parents who resort to violence instead of reprimanding the behaivour.

    You said it yourself, you're a bachelor.

    Hate to say it, maybe you should keep mum on such things until you become a parent.

  4. That came out a lot harsher than intended. Sorry, I am hopped up on Allegra and have been chasing a toddler around who has been jacked up on sugar all day from Easter eggs, and now has drinkable yogurt now smothered over his entire brand new outfit.

    It never stops.

    I just hope he will end up okay, too.

  5. Oh wow... that is ridiculously true. Just wanted to comment and let you know I really enjoyed reading this and I'll be back :).

  6. Pia: The things I learn from you, Bone, can't be quantified

    LOL I love that line.

    And trampoline "houses" are quite common around here.

    Avery: I wonder if I'm the only person born in the 80's

    You lost me at "born in the 80's" :-/

    Toddler leashes? Really? I had not heard of those. Sounds like I've got a lot to learn.

    And yes, I try to report on the things that don't always get brought out in the national media. Just think of me as your alternative media source :)

    Eileen: Ouch. Well, we'll just blame it on the meds then.

    Amber: Thank you :) And thanks for stopping by.

  7. I think the wussification came from all the suing that parents did when they expected the toys to be safe for their kids without them having to watch the "little darlings." It's like the McDonalds Hot Coffee law suit.

    The trampoline cages do not come with the's another $200. So the manufacturers are saying "If you really love your kids, you'll spend another $200 on the safety cage." So the cage is not there for's there to prove to your neighbors that you really do love your kids.

  8. I've often wondered how 'we' survived. I used to curl up in the floorboard of the car and sleep all the way home from my grandma's house.

    Now, the kids have to be buckled in three different ways to get going. I know it's probably a good change.... but still! My mom used to just lay me in the seat next to her (when I was an infant) and take off down the road!

    I know times have changed.... but our kids have lost so much!

  9. That's not a trampoline; it's a playhouse with a bouncy floor.


    Great line, Bone.

    Aren't we being a little too overprotective? I mean, what's next? Soft foam padding underneath swing sets? Wearing life preservers and arm floaties in little one-foot deep plastic pools?

    Every time I see stuff like this, I just want to tell people to watch their kids a little more. I also do not have kids, but I spend a LOT of time around them, and you don’t want to know how many hours I spent babysitting when I was a teenager.

    Honestly, I remember driving on my dad’s lap without a car seat (only on backroads around home mind you), not having those stupid little plugs that go into wall sockets and never being dumb enough to stick something in a socket, and learning the hard way about riding bikes. Lets just say I should have had stitches, but I’ve always been a little stubborn. I still have the scar on my forehead, and if you run your finger in one area, you’ll wonder what on earth is in there. (Not a word about what’s not in there, Bone.)

    Re: Spanking. There is a big difference between beating and spanking. I got spanked. It wasn’t often, because I hated it when it happened, so I did my best to listen to my parents and obey them. And you know why I hated it? It wasn’t because it hurt me (sometimes it did, but that’s not the main reason), but because I knew I disappointed my parents. And I was embarrassed by it. I look at kids who get time outs and two minutes later they are doing the same thing again.

    These are the bloggers of tomorrow we're talking about. I'm barely even going to be able to enjoy my Spider Man water squirter now.


    Love it! Hope you get to enjoy it a little. ;)

    I really enjoyed this post: hits home a lot to me.

  10. Oh, and you didn’t talk about it, but honestly, what’s with this kids getting spoiled by cartoon networks??? Seriously. Some of us got up early to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. It didn’t kill us. But with Tivo and DVRs and cartoons 24/7, kids don’t even learn the value of getting up early on Saturday morning. Sheesh.

    What is the world coming to?

  11. I think all parents really want to protect their kids, but I guess the best way to learn a lesson is to learn it the hard way. ;) Maybe kids won't have such scraped up knees though- mine are a mess from the one too many tumbles I took!

  12. Renee: We think a lot alike. Lawsuits actually crossed my mind when I was writing the post. I figured that was the reason for many of the super protective items and rules. But I didn't want to make the post too long.

    So I'm guessing if the neighbors have a cage, and you do not, it makes you look bad :)

    Kerry: Yeah, carseats? Pffft. My sister and I played this game where one of us would try to touch the opposite wall of the car while the other one tried to stop them.

    TC: if you run your finger in one area, you’ll wonder what on earth is in there.

    Um, tell you what, I'll just take your word for it ;)

    Yeah, there is a difference. Once I was old enough to understand, the worst part of it was knowing I had disappointed my parents.

    Good point about the cartoons. I was going to mention video games today, too, but didn't want this post to go on until May :)

    Goofy Girl: I seriously meant to put that line in my post: A lesson learned best is a lesson learned the hard way.

    It was in my head and then just never made it to the blog. Augh!

    Some of my favorite memories of childhood are bike wrecks, being hit in the head by a baseball, etc. as I can laugh about them now.

  13. lmao!

    I love Lucky Charms! (Try putting a scoop of ice cream into the milk with it too... yummmmmmmmmmmm!) I used to eat it for 2 meals a day! Cant do that now with the bloggers of the future watching me! hehehe

    Oh and ya my trampoline has the netting! lol

  14. I would type a long comment, but I run :)

  15. Is there room on your soapbox for one more?

    What about the kids that haven't learned that we can't all be winners? That sometimes there are losers, and that unless you work your arse off, you just might be one of them. And sometimes, maybe, even if you DO work your arse off, you might be one of them, because God didn't see fit to give us all the same gifts. Oh, well.

    I hate going to these children's competitions where everyone gets a blue ribbon. It's such dog poop. When I was a kid, there was one winner, and everyone else lined up behind them, motivated to try harder next time--just like Avis.

    Self-esteem is great, but only if it's earned. I'm OK, you're OK doesn't work for me if you're not trying...

    Stepping down from soapbox now, to make room for the next in line.

  16. Amen. I tell my kids "You're special...just like everyone else." How can I make excuses for them? They'll expect others to do it when they grow up, and that ain't going to happen.

    I never had a trampoline...they always scared the hell out of me. And bouncy houses are a horror...but I still let my kids go on them. They'll learn what hurts and not do it again. I hope.

  17. Well said. I completely agree with everything you said. I do not think that you have to be a father yourself in order to determine what you view as right or wrong. In fact, I would say that being a parent would definately form biases in the decisions surrounding your kids. In today's world of sensational media, we as a society have become too scared and uber-protective of our children. I say, walk it off.

    Anyways, this was my first visit to your site, and I must say that I will was a very good read...well done.

  18. Hallelujah! Stand up and sing the praise!

    It's rare when I feel compelled to testify to a blog post, but this is one of those powerful, uplifting moments. You could not be more right in your observations, Bone, and having not known about the cereal prizes being at the top, the whole event made me want to run out and buy a box just to confirm.

    Believe you me: The pet was a coach as you well know. If you think you know about wussification based on those hints, she has some GOOD stories to support your claims.

  19. A) Lucky Charms rock! They were my sustinance in college
    B) My parents didn't get the spanking memo, and I turned out ok (at least, my parole officer says so. ha!)
    C) I'd rather have the toy in a Cracker Jack box. ;)

  20. About spankings--there's a big big difference between spanking a child and chronically hitting a child

    Spankings are done out of love, fear and frustration.

    It's when frustration becomes the biggest part of the relationship that spanking becomes hitting and thus abuse

    It's easy for somebody to say that sports should be competitive when they did well, or weren't singled out, or the last chosen

    Maybe we're teaching children tolerance--and when they become adults can be competitive within the framework of tolerating differences

    You're not teaching children self-esteem when you let them make fun of other kids, you're teaching them superiority

    Earning self-esteem comes in many ways, and one great way is teaching kids that there are differences.

    Not everybody is going to excel in everything, and while that has to be learned, it doesn't have to be learned at the expense of a few kids who honestly can't compete

    While the generation coming up is the most spoiled, coddled etc., they are also the most compassionate and caring kids

    Maybe the trade off is worth it.

  21. LOL! So very true on all counts. Yes, saving proofs of purchase was the worst. But you know, despite what my parents must have thought (that it'll be a worthless toy), they still helped me out and sent everything off just coz' I was their kid - and I really appreciated that.

    I too got spanked as a child. And you know what? I'm not in therapy today because of it. I'm not blaming my parents for "scarring" me. I haven't been in jail or even arrested. None of that is a bad thing y any stretch of the imagination either. Time out? What a joke. What kind of deterrent is that?

    You know, if I had to pee on an electric fence everytime I messed up instead of "time out", the learning process would be much faster. I'd learn my lesson in one shot. How many times do kids go into "time out"? Now, I'm not advocating putting in an electric fence, just using it as an extreme example of showing that a penalty has to REALLY be something unpleasant to work as a deterrent.

    Safety - unfortunately, over protectiveness is the result of our overly litigious society. People these days sue for anything. Heck, I think some people look for opportunities to sue someone or some company.


  22. Kate: Ice cream in Lucky Charms? I've never heard that. Thanks for the tip :)

    GirlFPS: You run?

    Gay: I didn't even think about that. But, yeah, there is something to be said for not only winning gracefully, but losing gracefully, too.

    In little league, if we won, we got to go to Sonic for milkshakes. If we lost, we went home. And I wasn't scarred by that. Either way, we lined up and told everybody "good game" when it was over.

    Lass: How can I make excuses for them? They'll expect others to do it when they grow up, and that ain't going to happen.

    Excellent point!

    Wally: I do not think that you have to be a father yourself in order to determine what you view as right or wrong.

    Thank you. I think I have some idea of how I'll raise my kids, much of it based on how I was raised. And I also figure some of those opinions will change once I become a father.

    Zeus: Ah, well I'd be anxious to hear of the pet's experiences.

    Carmen: Cracker Jacks did tend to have the best toys!

    Pia: I never remember being made fun of playing league sports or for losing a game, and my teams probably lost more than they won. I think most kids are very resilient.

    I just hope the overly-coddled adjust well to the realities of life.

    J-Mo: You know, if I had to pee on an electric fence everytime I messed up instead of "time out", the learning process would be much faster.


    Yeah, I don't think Time Out would have worked as well on me, either. Well said, on all counts, bro.

  23. Oh you mean the video games that some people like to blame for turning their kids into murderers? Be real people. I watched plenty of graphic movies and spent hours begging my brother to let me play his video games (to no avail I might add), and I can barely kill a fly. (Ok, so that has to do with my skill level, but you get the point!)


    I think Renee's point about having to prove you love your kid by "protecting" them is valid and part of what's wrong with kids today. It's like these car seat regulations: they have to be like five feet tall to get out of a car seat these days! I know some adults who aren't five feet tall!

    A politician who was friends with my father once explained to him that it's not that anyone really believes kids need to be in "boosters" until they are five feet tall, but that it's political suicide to vote against anything with the word "safety" in it. How can you be against safety for our kids??? people would ask. So it's all a political game of one-oneupmanship.

    I think kids today - based on my experiences of substitute teaching in the not-so-far-removed-past - are a bunch of spoiled, selfish, and mean children. Yes, there ARE exceptions, but honestly, the vast majority of the ones I dealt with (in six different schools lest someone say it's one specific area) are not all that caring or kind to other people.

    Why should they be? Consequences for their bad behavior are non-existent.

  24. " . . . I am only fairly certain my Dad would have immediately called time-in."

    Brahahahahaha! Oh that is funny! I can't stop laughing. The image of a 10 year old Bone calling a time out! LOL!

    When I was a kid the trampoline gave me many skinned noses. I always fell on my face and skinned my nose. I have a very vivid memory of jumping on the trampoline and doing my cheerleading moves in front of my step brothers friends, who were all football players. I was about 10 they were all 15 or older. They were all very sweet and told me I would make the squad "for sure". I didn't. :(

  25. Yeah, I had to run off since I spilled the box of aphids and half a bottle Dr. pepper on my pants.

  26. I argee with your last comment (at least 3/4 of it) traveling chica.
    And in LA we have very big problem with illegal aliens (most all of them are mexican), who's kids{many of which are very mean and cause a lot of gang problems) fill up way more schools then American kids do.

  27. Uh oh, girlfpsgamer, talked about the voodoo race thing...ha ha Al Sharpton and have him berate her...and make her appologize. Unfortunately I have to have the news on all day at work...I am so tired of hearing that crap about Imus. Anyway, way off topic...sorry.

  28. Awesome post! It goes hand in hand with my post from Friday on the American School System, and what a horrible job it is doing at educating our kids.
    I didn't believe until I got in there and started seeing it for myself. If you don't have kids, one would never know. Between wussification, bad schools, and illegal immigration... we're in a world of hurt! Peace out!

  29. Bone, this is great, it's funny, and there's a good message here (open the cereal boxes before your kids do and steal the prize!) Thanks.

  30. you said "wussification"- i love that!

  31. TC: Well, actually, I was going for the angle that kids have it so much better today with Xbox 360's and Wii's. Since all we had was Atari with the single-button joystick controller, or Nintendo with the directional pad and A & B buttons. But you have a good point, too :)

    Sounds like this could have been a week-long series of posts.

    HotPink: Sorry to dredge up old painful cheerleader tryout memories.

    GirlFPS: Oh, OK. Well that explains it.

    Wally: Oh geez. I hope I don't start getting hits for all that now.

    Java Boo Boo: I don't know. Have you seen Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? :)

    Sage: Haha. I'm only here to help :)

    Sizzle: Actually, in the original, uncut version, it was an even stronger term. Look for that one in my movie.

  32. Since all we had was Atari with the single-button joystick controller, or Nintendo with the directional pad and A & B buttons.

    My mistake, but seriously... is Wii really better than Atari??

    I think not!

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. TC: That's a valid argument. It's hard to beat Combat, Pitfall, and River Raid :) Then again, I've yet to play a Wii.

  35. Yes, children are way to overprotected these days. Even as a teacher I balk at the security and safety measures that we have to follow every day.

  36. One of our local DJs mentioned "furthering the wussification of today's youth" on the radio this morning which made me immediately think of this post. Still one of the best reads ever.