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As I work with teenagers on an every day basis I often ask myself if kids today are different from when we were growing up? At times I catch myself scratching my head at some of the things they say today or even do. Or things they will not do.

Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s sure it was different, but just how different?

Choosing Up Sides

I do know that we played a lot of ball.  Much more than they play today, that’s for sure.  Maybe it’s because kids today have many more things to do than we did.  I see schoolyards and baseball fields empty.

On Saturday mornings we spent time playing hardball in the lot.  Or, we would be in the boys schoolyard playing basketball on a Saturday morning from nine until it got dark. Or until a priest threw us.

When we left the house in the morning and not come home for hours!

We spent a lot of time together too.  Hanging out on the corner, sitting on a stoop and even riding the trains together in the winter just to stay warm.

Respect for elders? Fighting authority? Asking and not receiving?

Is the work ethic there with today’s kids?  Most of us were working when we were fifteen, sixteen, and even seventeen. Some had paper routes, some delivered groceries and some worked behind the deli counter.  My daughter, who is fourteen just started a baby-sitting job.

We shovelled snow when it was ankle-deep. We would go door-to-door walking up and down ninth avenue asking store owners if we could shovel their sidewalk. We waited outside Bohack for shoppers with bags of groceries; we pushed the cart to their car in the parking lot and loaded bags into their trunk.  We rang door bells asking the elderly if they needed anything from the store? (There was an old lady on Fuller Place, we used to race each other after school to see if she needed anything from the store; she tipped well)

As far as courting the opposite sex; it’s not called ‘dating’, or, ‘going out with someone’ anymore.  They don’t use those terms. They call it ‘talking to someone’. They don’t talk on the phone like we did either. They text or even tweet to each other.

As far as television goes, we had six stations to choose from. What do they have now with cable and all? Hundreds… Reality shows, music video stations, ten different ESPN stations, video games, i-pads, cell phones, text-messages, instant messages, DVD players, DVD players built-in the cars now so kids don’t have to talk to their parents or with each other on long road trips, laptops, Facebook and Twitter…wow!

So many choices, so little time.  Who needs to be out in the schoolyard or on the streets playing ball, they can stay inside!

You know what though? Growing up on ninth avenue back in the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

I don’t know if kids are different today, but I do know the things around them are different.