The Firefly Effect: The Disappearance of Childhood

This archived post has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is the promise of warmer weather. Maybe it is the recent articles I have read about whether or not parents should try to manufacture magic for their children. Maybe I have just been feeling more intensely the constant taunt that the childhoods of my children are as impossible to grasp hold of as one of those willy water snake toys you could always find near the cash register at K•B Toys. Regardless of of what brought this post back to the surface, I took it as a sign to breathe a bit of new life into it…

“Hey look! A firefly!”

My kids scampered off into the duskly shrouded park to chase the lone intermittent yellow illumination, as my husband and I sat listening to the music of Cornet Chop Suey’s free concert.

“Remember catching fireflies as kids and putting them in mason jars with holes punched in the lids?” I mused. “You don’t see as many fireflies these days.”

“Because there aren’t as many as there used to be,” my husband replied.

Silently, I mourned that childhood just isn’t what it used to be. It seems even fireflies are finding themselves in the same company as trick-or-treating, riding bikes around the neighborhood, and imagination…the vanishing company of childhood.

We accuse many thieves in the robbery of youth. Mistrust of mankind keeps us from allowing our kids to knock on strangers’ doors and see how much candy their costumes can bring in. Rising violence and fear of child kidnappers and pedophiles make us wary to let our little ones roam in carefree exploration of new ventures of play. We blame technology for doing the legwork of imagination for our kids, or claim that they are too overloaded with school and extracurriculars to have any time to daydream. And in the case of the disappearing fireflies, the culprits appear to be industrial development and light pollution. With all of these things becoming endangered species, what kind of childhood is left for our kids to enjoy?

 

fireflies lightening bug
photo credit: thecleversheep via photopin cc

But maybe things are not really as different for our kids as we think. Maybe it is just OUR perspective that has changed. We see things with the practicality and rawness of adulthood. True, the world may be changing…but this is the only world our children have ever known, and the only childhood they have ever experienced. We might see the absence of a few fireflies, but our kids simply see the ones that ARE there. And they have just as much fun chasing the five that are in their backyard as we did chasing the fifteen that were in ours.

So the only thing that can rob our kids of childhood is if we tell them there aren’t any childhoods left to live.

It was silly of me to mourn that night in the park. Because as I looked around, I saw families sitting on blankets and nibbling on picnics…a playground full of kids giggling and squealing with the delight that comes from swings and merry-go-rounds…bikes and scooters gliding along paved paths…little tongues turning shades of blue, red, and purple from sno cones…and oddly enough, more and more blinking, glowing orbs lighting up the darkening sky.

Long live childhood.

 

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18 thoughts on “The Firefly Effect: The Disappearance of Childhood

  1. Thank you. My kids are almost adult and often I have wondered about their childhood and compared it to mine. Wistfully I would think of so much they missed out on but the reality is there is so much I could never know, what all brought them smile and joy. How much will they wish and hope for their own children?

    Like

  2. Crap. Now I want to catch fireflies. Why do I have to work instead? If you’d be so kind to write my boss a note for me, I’d appreciative it. PS. I like it when you resurrect these archives!! 🙂

    Like

    1. Do you work the night shift? Because I’m pretty sure you would find even LESS fireflies at day than there are at night 🙂 And thanks…I’m glad you like the archives. Because that’s about all I seem to find time for nowadays!

      Like

  3. I think about this a lot. Especially when it comes to the internet/technology. The kids are growing up in an internet world. For instance, their baby pictures are on a computer rather than a print. Their memories of childhood will just be different than ours – not that that is a bad thing. Our neighborhood still has kids that explore the woods around us and they ride their bikes everywhere. That makes me happy to see a little part of my childhood repeated.

    Like

  4. Wow. You wrote down exactly what I have been thinking about but couldn’t put into words. Now if only we could go back to the days and feel as free as we did back then.

    Like

  5. We took our kids to a park with an old school metal slide and it made me nostalgic. Then I watched a little girl slide down, screaming the whole way because the backs of her legs were getting burned. When she got to the bottom, her dad touched the slide and said, “Oh sh*t! I forgot about that.” It’s easy to remember the good stuff but progress is good too!

    Like

    1. Ah yes! Those metal slides!!!! Playgrounds are WAY better than they used to be, that is for sure. And a lot cooler. And yes, there are many things my kids get to experience now that I never did for which I am grateful. Which is I guess is my point…they may not have as many fireflies, but they have many other things making childhood grand.

      Like

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The Firefly Effect: The Disappearance of Childhood

This archived post has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is the promise of warmer weather. Maybe it is the recent articles I have read about whether or not parents should try to manufacture magic for their children. Maybe I have just been feeling more intensely the constant taunt that the childhoods of my children are as impossible to grasp hold of as one of those willy water snake toys you could always find near the cash register at K•B Toys. Regardless of of what brought this post back to the surface, I took it as a sign to breathe a bit of new life into it…

“Hey look! A firefly!” Continue reading “The Firefly Effect: The Disappearance of Childhood”

18 thoughts on “The Firefly Effect: The Disappearance of Childhood

  1. Thank you. My kids are almost adult and often I have wondered about their childhood and compared it to mine. Wistfully I would think of so much they missed out on but the reality is there is so much I could never know, what all brought them smile and joy. How much will they wish and hope for their own children?

    Like

  2. Crap. Now I want to catch fireflies. Why do I have to work instead? If you’d be so kind to write my boss a note for me, I’d appreciative it. PS. I like it when you resurrect these archives!! 🙂

    Like

    1. Do you work the night shift? Because I’m pretty sure you would find even LESS fireflies at day than there are at night 🙂 And thanks…I’m glad you like the archives. Because that’s about all I seem to find time for nowadays!

      Like

  3. I think about this a lot. Especially when it comes to the internet/technology. The kids are growing up in an internet world. For instance, their baby pictures are on a computer rather than a print. Their memories of childhood will just be different than ours – not that that is a bad thing. Our neighborhood still has kids that explore the woods around us and they ride their bikes everywhere. That makes me happy to see a little part of my childhood repeated.

    Like

  4. Wow. You wrote down exactly what I have been thinking about but couldn’t put into words. Now if only we could go back to the days and feel as free as we did back then.

    Like

  5. We took our kids to a park with an old school metal slide and it made me nostalgic. Then I watched a little girl slide down, screaming the whole way because the backs of her legs were getting burned. When she got to the bottom, her dad touched the slide and said, “Oh sh*t! I forgot about that.” It’s easy to remember the good stuff but progress is good too!

    Like

    1. Ah yes! Those metal slides!!!! Playgrounds are WAY better than they used to be, that is for sure. And a lot cooler. And yes, there are many things my kids get to experience now that I never did for which I am grateful. Which is I guess is my point…they may not have as many fireflies, but they have many other things making childhood grand.

      Like

I'm listening...really

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