It's tough to be a kid these days

When it comes to complaining about getting old, I'd like to think I have a corner on the market. No one bemoans the fact that he's not a teenager more than me. I don't need to say it out loud. I'm reminded of it every morning when it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed.

But I have to tell you, I think I'll take those aches and pains over being a youngster in today's world. I'm not sure I could handle being a kid in 2024. The schedules are packed from morning until night. If you're not part of a club, troupe or traveling sports team, you might as well be nonexistent. At least that's what it looks like on social media.

And that is part of problem. Back in the day, we weren't obsessed with recording every one of our movements or making sure our friends knew exactly what we were doing every moment of every day. Heck, most of the time our parents never even knew what we were doing until we came home for dinner. And somehow, we all survived.

Sadly, the pressures of being constantly engaged, winning at all costs and oversharing every thought and action have become engrained in the fabric of our children's lives. Honestly, I don't blame them. It's the only norm they've ever known.

I also feel like the school year has gotten substantially longer. In the old days, we wouldn't even think of starting before Labor Day. But I drove by a grade school the other day, and they boldly advertised on their display sign that back-to-school day is Aug. 26. Come on! It's the Fourth of July for crying out loud. Give these kids a break. They just barely finished cleaning out their lockers and its already time to start thinking about school supplies. I'm all for a full and productive education, but their brains need at least a little time away from the classroom. Isn't that the whole point of summer?

So, as an eternally childish 58-year-old, I feel it's my duty to set them straight. If you're a kid, here's my advice: Put your phone down and ride your bike. Go to the pool. Eat cold pizza for breakfast. Play cards with your friends. Go to a movie. If you can't afford it, ask your neighbor if you can mow their lawn or wash their car for a few bucks. Play tennis or hoops at the park when it's raining. Stay up late and call the boy or girl you've been thinking about (texts don't count).

And if you're a parent, here's my advice to you: Let your kids be kids.

- John Bourjaily of Golfview Hills is a former contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].