Lee Pitts: No child left outside
October 4, 2012
Any day now I expect to get a piece of junk mail that reads something like this:
"Little Johnny took his first steps outside when he was only 13 years old. His knees were wobbly, a look of fear was on Johnny's face, and he held his mother's hand tightly as he looked up in the sky for the first time and asked, "Mommy, what is that big bright thing in the sky?"
"That would be the sun," replied his mother. "I'm sure you've heard about it on the Internet."
"And what's that stuff blowing in my face that makes it burn?"
"That would be the wind Johnny. Once we go back in the house you can Google it and learn all about it."
"Can we go back inside now, mommy? It's uncomfortable out here," said poor little Johnny. "Oh no, mommy, HELP! HELP! There's something crawling on my arm!"
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"Don't cry Johnny, it's just a lady bug. It won't hurt you."
"It's gross. I want to go back inside right now! I want my X-Box."
Like millions like him, little Johnny suffers from Nature Deficiency Disorder (NDD), a serious disease that tragically affects millions of kids just like him. Won't you donate to the NDD Foundation so that we can stop the suffering and so that one day our kids can once again go outside and play without throwing a temper tantrum."
Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but there really is such a thing as NDD and it's all been caused by the government program, "No Child Left Outside." Okay, so maybe I'm a little confused. That was No Child Left Behind, but NDD is a serious scourge across our land, nonetheless. So is something called Nintendonitis, which comes from playing Nintendo too long. Mostly it affects techonsexuals, young people who love technology more than they do the opposite sex.
The problem is, even when kids do go outside they aren't really communing with nature. On the news the other night there was a story about emergency rooms across the land being overrun by young people who walked into walls, crashed into windows and fell down holes while they were walking and staring at their "smart phones." (If that's the case I think the phone really is smarter than the one staring at it.)
In other news, some people in my county want to spend $50 million on a botanical garden to teach children about plants. I have a better idea. Give every first grade teacher in the county a Mason jar and an avocado seed. (Note to teachers: An avocado seed can be found inside an avocado. It's the hard thing in the middle. A Mason jar is what mothers used to use for canning. Canning is a method of food… oh, never mind). Have the kids pour some water in the jar and attach toothpicks to the seed and let it rest on top the jar with its bottom in the water. As if by magic something will start to come out of the seed. That's a plant! And just like that, we just saved $50 million.
Or you could just take the first graders outside without their phones.
When I was in school we had an exchange student program where an American kid would go overseas and a kid from where they went would come to live with an American family. I don't know if they still have them but I think we need a variation of that program now days. A city kid would go live in the country for a year and learn about plants, feeding animals, chores, FFA, getting up at five or six, and all the things country kids learn by riding the bus to school. In turn, a farm kid would live in the city where the city kids would teach the farm kid about urban things like rap music, tattoos, marijuana, sleeping until ten, tongue studs, no chores, and an allowance.
On second thought, maybe we should just let Nature Deficiency Disorder run its natural course.