My Ma has invited me to post on this blog from time to time on any subject that tickles my fancy. As I have a fairly ticklish fancy, there are a lot of things I'd like to talk about which I just don't get to address in my blog, "Once Upon a Time and Long Ago" in which I write new, funny versions of classic fairy tales, as well as original stories for kids and adults alike. It updates every Friday, it's here on Blogger and that concludes the first of many shameless plugs.
Anyway, as this is my first posting, alduce me to introlow myself: My name is Templeton Moss. I am 27 years old, I haven't worn matching socks in over a year, my favorite current TV show is Phineas and Ferb, my favorite book is "Winnie the Pooh," and my favorite places to be are, in this order, my bed and Disneyland. Some of you may think that this points to a severe mental problem and while that is, undoubtedly, true, it's not really the point I'm trying to make. I believe that all of the world's problems can be traced back to grownups who have forgotten how it feels to be kids. I think reminding people of their childhood is a good way to make them happier, more lighthearted and, therefore, better people. And if we could just scrape together a few more "better people," maybe the world wouldn't be in such a mess. That's what I'm trying to do with my blog every week, by telling stories we heard as children in a new way, it makes the stories seem new and, suddenly, we're kids again.
Or at least that's the idea.
Cuz, let's face it ladles and jelly-spoons: Being a grownup sucks beyond the telling of it! No, really. With the work and the responsibility and having to watch the news and eat salads and wearing neckties and voting and bills and chest pains and all the other little annoyances that make people grumble and moan all day, much to the chagrin of the child inside of all of us who just wants to come out and play every now and then.
And isn't that what being a kid is all about? Playing? Getting out into the world, using your imagination, learning by opening your mind to the infinite possibilities our world has to offer. I promise you, the important lessons I've learned in life, the ones that stay with me every day and have seen me through the hard times, did NOT come from a textbook or a classroom. More likely they came from a game or a cartoon or (time for another plug) a story being told to me by an author, an actor or a parent.
So, I grew up part of the way, but I never gave up being a kid at least some of the time. I work and I meet my responsibilities and I do what's expected of me and I shave and try to stay up to date with world events. But when I'm done with all that crap I watch the Muppets on DVD (sidebar: How psyched are we for their new movie next month?) and play as Princess Peach in "Super Mario 2" (trust me: The game is much better if you only use the princess). Because growing up doesn't mean you can't have fun anymore.
Which is just as well because, more and more, it's looking like our society doesn't want kids to have fun either. Every month or so, I hear some distressing news story or notice something in my town that makes me dysphoric about the life of a kid in our nation. And now that Halloween is approaching, I'm noticing that yet another time-honored childhood institution is being challenged: Tricks-or-Treats!
When I was a kid, on Halloween night, we'd dress up in our part store-bought/part home made costumes (highlights from my own experiences: Raggedy Andy, Goofy, Darkwing Duck [twice] and the Riddler the year Batman Forever came out) and Mom and/or Dad would take us door-to-door around our neighborhood with our pumpkin buckets to collect free candy from strangers; the one night of the year when such behavior was not only permissible, but encouraged. And that's what Halloween was all about, Charlie Brown.
But now, scared parents want to ruin this fun, ever-so-slightly-scary activity with rampant safety precautions: Reflectors and flashlights? Sure, that's not a problem. Always go with an adult? Of course, we're not stupid. Trick-or-Treat during daylight? Wait, what? No! That's no fun. Only visit people you know? Are you crazy? And what are these Trick-Or-Treat parties where you only get candy from six people who go to the same church as you? What am I gonna do with this giant pillowcase full of twelve "Fun Size" Butterfingers?
And it's not just Tricks-Or-Treats under fire. Have you seen Happy Meals lately? Apple dippers? Milk or juice instead of soda? You're at McDonald's!!! If you want your kids to eat healthy, have them stay home and make them a PBJ with the crusts cut off. It's a "Happy" Meal not a "Just Eat It, It's Good For You" Meal. Then I see a Newsweek story extolling the merits of eliminating summer vacation?
Parents, teachers, nosy people: I know being a grownup is hard (in fact I said so just a few paragraphs ago) and I understand that you want the best for the little ones. But the best doesn't always mean rigid, school-like discipline twenty-four/seven. Even in school, kids get recess. Life is a balancing act whether you're ten, twenty, thirty, or some other different number. It's work AND play. It's serious AND silly. CNN AND Spongebob Squarepants. So teach your children, send them to school, prepare them for the job market of the future. But let them have fun on Halloween night. Let them take three months off from school every year. And, by God, let them eat fries!...at least, every now and then.