Where Are the Children?

August 10th, 2011

By Dr. Jim Taylor

Empty Ball Field in SummerSee the photo? A neighbor of mine, Larry Mansbach, emailed it to me because he thought it would make a good blog post. Well, he’s right.

The photo was taken on a beautiful July Saturday afternoon at the fields and playground of an elementary school in Marin County (please hold the Marin jokes) north of San Francisco. No, it’s not an advertisement for the beauty and serenity of Marin life (beautiful yes, serene no). Rather, it may be an indictment on life in the ‘burbs whether in Northern California or other parts south, east, or north.

Do you notice anything odd about the photo? I feel like I’m in an episode of Twilight Zone (cue music and Rod Serling’s voiceover; I know this reference makes me old) in which everything appears normal except for one glaring omission.

The obvious answer is: The children are missing! That’s what struck my neighbor in sending me the photo: Where are the children? I, of course, can’t provide any definitive answers to my question, but it does make you wonder. In my attempt at answering this question, the only thoughts that come to mind are those that are cynical and decidedly pessimistic. In honor of David Letterman, here’s my top-ten reasons why the fields and playgrounds are empty on a Saturday in July (perhaps the optimists out there can offer some more hopeful explanations for the void of youthful humanity in the photo):

10. At home playing video games.

9. Sitting on a park bench in packs texting rather than talking to each other.

8. Hanging out at the mall.

7. At a soccer tournament in Fresno.

6. At computer camp.

5. Doing an internship at Charles Schwab.

4. Buying crack on the mean streets of San Rafael.

3. Attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

2. At their second home in Tahoe.

1. At summer school looking to gain an edge in the academic rat race.

(This article was also posted at Dr. Jim Taylor’s Blog.)

(Visit Dr. Jim Taylor’s YouTube channel to see TV interviews and Prime topic discussions.)

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