Part of using the family minivan means chauffeuring younger kids around whenever they want to go to a friend's house. Melanie* just had to get to this other kid's house as soon as possible; my mother demanded that I drive her. Being the obedient, loyal, loving daughter that I am, I whined until I was forced to relinquish my constant facebook access (I'd already been forced out of my room at this point). I use Melanie to get a few extra minutes in while she begs my mom to allow her to take a Wii game with her. My mother refuses, and then kicks us out. Wearing my boyfriend's sweater, gym shorts, and Melanie's flip flops which miraculously fit me, I drag myself out to the van and somehow manage to get her inside of it after 3 minutes of locking and unlocking the door. You know how when you try to open it and unlock it at the same time, it doesn't work? Yeah.
Finally, we get to the girl's house. She lives a bit off the beaten path, and her grandparents live next door. Melanie gets out and notices that the grandmother's dog has wandered into the friend's yard. 9 year old collects the yappy thing and hauls it over to the other house, a good 100 yards away. I am content with petting the friend's HUGE chocolate lab, after trying to convince Melanie to ignore the yappy dog. Finally, she comes back and asks me to call her cell phone because she's dropped it somewhere along the way. Thinking this wouldn't take more than 5 minutes, I didn't bring my phone.
We search. There are three dogs running around. Dog presents everywhere. It is cold, I am underdressed, and these flip flops are not my friends. Since when does a 9 year old need a cell phone? Since when does a 9 year old need anything that's electronic, except maybe a game console? Kids these days are being taught materialism and consumerism at such a young age, it's gross. Ten years ago, I played my brother's N64 and with Barbie dolls and I read books. This friend of Melanie's? She's been held back a grade, has a cell phone and a facebook account, and I don't think she knows what a book is. Melanie has trouble putting words in alphabetical order, for crying out loud! When did the social hierarchy of 8th grade trickle down into these elementary kids?
The public school system doesn't need to sell anymore cookie dough. We don't need winter formals, spirit week, or pep rallies. We need kids who know how and like to read. Kids should be able to do simple math, write papers, and form grammatically correct sentences. One of my favorite hobbies is to find the profiles of 12 year olds and send them to my college age friends; the writing style is always the same, and they always say the same thing. More than half of the kids we encounter sound like they copy and paste their "about me"s, and they are all equally poorly written. Here's an example: