Recently, I heard on a morning news program that second graders couldn’t tie their shoes, and teens couldn’t wash a load of laundry, or better yet, figure out the utterly complicated can opener. Toddlers weren’t left out either; apparently, we suck at potty training our kids and four and five-year-olds are wandering around in pull-ups. There were some other examples, but we don’t need our noses rubbed in our parental failures. At least, I don’t.
I’m sure with our technological advances and the invention of Velcro, kids are behind with the simple everyday tasks. We probably do too much for them or maybe worry they’ll get too many owies. I don’t know. I think there is some truth in it, but I just watched my four-year-old son play Super Mario Bros. and couldn’t believe how crazy good he is. He used one controller for Luigi, while the other was at his side, for Mario. He switched back and forth between the two, jumping, smashing, and sliding.
He knew how to dodge bullets, bum jump the mushroom dudes, and freeze turtle creatures. Holy crap, who taught him that? Not me. I’m still trying to figure out Farmtown.
My son is a genius at video games (work with me people, I’m proud) but he is lazy when it comes to everything else. His legs hurt a lot, which means he can’t walk up the stairs to get juice; his tummy doesn’t want to eat veggies; and his sister made him cut the cat’s hair. He actually still has accidents in his pants, which fits right into the four year old in pull-ups talk. But despite his laziness and pee-pee problems, my son navigates video games, the computer, and puzzles better than I did at his age.
I wasn't as lazy and I spent more time outside than I did in. I went on adventures of my own making and even when I had an Atari (insert the sounds of Space Invaders) I didn't get wrapped up in it like today's kids seem to do with Wii, Xbox, PS3, or all the other gadgets.
So how does this translate to fiction? What makes Percy Jackson or Harry Potter different from Charlie Bucket or Ramona? Is there a difference? Or are kids today fundamentally the same? Talk to me.