This past week, after the cast did their show in Pensacola on Wednesday night, they took a two day bus ride to Flint, MI with a stopover in Louisville, KY Thursday night. The cast is not required to go on the company’s transportation, so we can choose to get to the next location any way we want. Sam and I decided instead to take a flight from Pensacola to Detroit on Thursday so I could see my “homies in the D” (translation: I wanted to see my friends in the Detroit suburbs. Us suburban Jews like to use ghetto vernacular to sound like we are all buds with Eminem and Kid Rock). I also really wanted to have a Coney Island greek salad. It is the law if you are in the State of Michigan, you must eat at a Coney restaurant. I was very worried that Flint would not have the required food. This was not in the Michael Moore movie, but I am sure he included the lack of Coneys in his documentary on this town.
We stayed with my friend Lynne and her family Thursday night in the ‘burbs. It was the first night in nearly 4 months that Sam did not sleep in a hotel room. He slept in a house with a family room and a kitchen, and, most importantly, a backyard. Watching him play with two children who were not Jeremy or his siblings for the first time in months, it struck me how necessary this stopover was. He rode a bike, played with the family dog, swung on a swing set and sat on a couch that was not in the lobby of a hotel.
In this day and age, I feel that is missing from most of our children’s lives. Kids do not take one dance class a week anymore: they do dance teams. There is traveling soccer and hockey and competitive gymnastics. Kids are out until all hours of the night, every day of the week, rehearsing or practicing something. If your child doesn’t do any activity, there is no one around to play with anyway. All the kids in the neighborhood are all out at some sort of game or competition or performance.
Parents are putting their children in schools that boast about how much homework they have. This 3 hour a day homework advertisement actually attracts parents to sign their children up for these schools. It seems as if the measure of how good a school is these days is how much homework they assign. Kids are doing 5th grade math in 2nd grade. Many people think this is fabulous. I feel it’s unnecessary after 6.5 hours of school.
Birthday parties have become competitions too. In 2nd grade, a classmate of Lauren’s had a limo come to the school and pick up all the girls in her class for her 8 year old birthday party. The father of this child came into the class 15 minutes before school ended and took all the girls out of school to the party. The limo sat in front of the school for a half hour after school got out so that everyone could see how cool this child was. (BTW: Lauren was not included because she was new to the school and her family didn’t feel she was deserving of the party). After this, all the kids at our school and in our community tried to figure out ways to have bigger and better birthday parties. No more pin the tail on the donkey. This is serious business.
Life on tour for kids can be challenging. But life for any child these days is stressful and challenging. Waking up Lauren for cheer competitions at 5 in the morning in Palm Springs to do her hair and makeup is no different than schlepping Sam from Flint to West Virginia at 6 a.m. (which is what we are doing tomorrow).
I love the movie Indian Summer. In it, a group of adults who went to a summer camp in Canada go back for a reunion. One of the men keeps marveling over the fact that the camp got smaller. At the end of the movie, another character yells at him, “The camp didn’t get smaller. We got older.” Maybe our childhood was not as peaceful as I remember it was. Maybe I just got older and I am remembering things much differently.
When I finally got my Coney salad, I realized it was just bibb lettuce and feta cheese and salad dressing. But it still tasted as simple and easy as my time growing up.