America Hates Children!

Residents roar, shut those kids up!

The Daily News Article on the request to close a local playground. I guess by the title of this post you know which side of the fence I am on regarding the latest feud going on in Ditmas Park. For those not from my neighborhood, there is a battle brewing over whether to close a local playground on Sundays. Given the fact that there is very little public play space nearby, the local snobs/homeowners want to reduce that number even more.

I understand that late night basketball can be a nuisance, and should be limited, especially in summer. I have lived across from a playground, and that was the only thing I could complain about. That and the drug dealer who I eventually called the local precinct about which ended his game.

But cranky neighbors in my history have always been a drastic minority. Growing up in Bayside, Queens, we played on the streets daily. We played into the late hours of the night in summers and our schoolyards were always in full use. There were, and still are, houses located across from those playgrounds. Screaming kids was never a complaint, with the exception of one neighbor here or there. It seemed every street in our area had at least one cranky neighbor who would accuse us of rowdiness, noise, excessive ball playing etc. Those cranky folks always got their homes decorated by eggs and chalk on Halloween, and Firecrackers on the lawn during 4th of July. Being a mean old fart has its own rewards.

What seems to have happened during my transition into middle age, is that the cranky old farts have multiplied. They are everywhere. We refer to them as entitled. Some of them are old empty nesters, some are young empty nesters. Either way, they do not want anything that annoys them, or is different, or disturbing in their world.

Children making noise is music to my ears. It is known by many experts that playing is as important to a child as breathing. It is the way they learn. How they become socialized. It is how they grow into healthy adults. Children who do not play enough, grow into cranky old farts who want to close playgrounds.

Brooklyn Free School is located in Clinton Hill. We moved there almost 1 year ago. Our school is predicated on play, on encouraging the free and curious spirit. But I will have you know that the main complaint we get from neighbors is that the kids make noise. It seems ridiculous to say it. Children should not make noise?

Anyone with kids will tell you that when you do not hear children making noise, it is something to worry about. Usually it means they are up to something that you need to attend to immediately. Let me rephrase that: IMMEDIATELY!

George Kowallis” , 68, a psychiatrist, claims it’s a health issue. “There’s yelling. There’s screaming. It’s kids being loud. I have double-thick windows and it’s no good. The noise fills the house,” he complained.
“It’s really harmful. You can’t hear your own thoughts. It raises my blood pressure,” he added. “If I want to take a nap, I use earplugs or a white-noise machine.”

Does George not sound like some old character out of a 1960’s sitcom? As a psychiatrist, he needs his head examined.

We have become too used to trying to shut kids up. It is the main thing passed along to children in public school. Shhhhh!! Common complaints of teachers to parents in public school is that their child talks too much. Of course they fail to understand that this is exactly what children need to do. They are socializing. They are trying figure out how to fit into the world. They need to talk, make noise and run around. It is what they are built to do. And it is this that keeps me interested in the things that I love. As an adult, I still want to play. Playing is learning. And it crosses all social and economic lines. Maybe that is what makes people nervous.

But now our world is populated by privileged snobs like good old farty George. And, George, if you read this, I am not going to apologize to you. I have had it with you and your ilk. I will say to you here, and now. I will walk over to your house on Argyle, and say it to you there. America hates its children. If we loved them, we would not subject them to the relentless bullshit that is pouring forth from the schools, the media, the medical establishment, the government,etc. on a daily basis. Everybody wants to regulate childhood. If we loved our children, we would not try to shut down the little public space they have that encourages them to be healthy. They are locked into chairs, at desks, inside classrooms every day, with bars on the windows and cops at the door. Where is the respite? We treat our prisoners better.

I know people are entitled to a little peace. Maybe we need a redefinition of that word. There needs to be some guidelines. But closing a playground because it is an annoyance to a few irritated homeowners, at the expense of the public good, is wrong.

We need to start loving our children as a community again. If we want a better nation, then we need to treat each other better. We look down at our children and we say “THEM,” forgetting the fact that in 10 to 15 years, “they’ will be “us.” In fifteen years many of these children will be in our workforce. What will they have to bring with them? A long history of being told to shut up, sit down, and for gods sake, STOP RUNNING!

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3 Comments on “America Hates Children!”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. We talk all about family values in this country, but the truth is that we want kids to be invisible most of the time. Sure, there are times and places when kids either aren’t welcome or need to be monitored, but on a playground during daylight ours on a weekend?


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