On Childhood

In the past few weeks my attention has been drawn to repeated posts on social media claiming
“I survived free range parenting!” and “These kids today don’t have a real childhood. So sad.”

Just stop. What makes your childhood better than someone’s today? What makes you think a kid who plays video games or texts their friends on a smart phone doesn’t have a childhood?

Here’s the definition of childhood: the period during which a person is a child.

Nope, nothing in there about no Internet and social media and only playing outside. Read that definition again. If they’re a child, they have a childhood. End of discussion.

Here’s the problem. The childhood they are having is not the same childhood you had, and you can’t seem to understand that and thus protest on social media.

Instead, people seem to think that since it’s not the same as what they had that it’s wrong. That their childhood was better. That it was how a kid should grow up. Do you have any idea how arrogant and condescending that mindset is?

Rewind one hundred years and the bicycle, the quintessential childhood toy, was not even considered a children’s toy. Did those poor kids growing up without bikes not have a childhood? What about 200 years ago when it was more likely that they were helping the family provide instead of going to school? Where did their childhood go?

They still had a childhood, just a different one from the one you and I experienced. And this is only the Western world we’re talking about here, not even touching on regions not as fortunate.

The technology kids are picking up today is staggering. I know people who can barely use a computer and I know kids who understand more about today’s technology than many people I work with as an information security engineer. Why is this? Because they’re growing up with it.

The crux of it all is that kids today have access to technology that just did not exist when previous generations were growing up. These kids have access to so much information it is mind-boggling and they will only be better because of that exposure.

So please, please, just stop pretending you and your childhood are superior.

2014 In Books

2014 Books

Not pictured are Kindle books.

During eighth grade my literature teacher had us keep a chart of all the books we read over the course of the year. Most students had the mandatory ones for class and a few had some extras. The idea was she would keep them and if you requested give them to you when you graduated high school. I went through three or four pages. I read a lot.

A few years ago I decided I should start reading more since I had slacked off a lot since moving away from home. So I began keeping track of what books I read and how many pages they were.

This is my list from 2014 (doesn’t read well on mobile):

(361 pages)

(188 pages)

(531 pages)

(217 pages)

(487 pages)

(435 pages)

(442 pages)

(352 pages)

(396 pages)

(384 pages)

(312 pages)

(310 pages)

(496 pages)

(436 pages)

(464 pages)

(455 pages)

(127 pages)

(449 pages)

(265 pages)

(366 pages)

(254 pages)

(368 pages)

(436 pages)

(285 pages)

(416 pages)

(159 pages)

(332 pages)

(403 pages)

Feet Of Clay
by Terry Pratchett

Tuesdays With Morrie
by Mitch Albom

Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King

The Black Company
by Glen Cook

by Veronica Roth

by Joe Hill

by Terry Pratchett

On Basilisk Station
by David Weber

by Cherie Priest

The Honor Of The Queen
by David Weber

Shadows Linger
by Glen Cook

The White Rose
by Glen Cook

by Stephen R. Lawhead

Mr. Mercedes
by Stephen King

by Stephen R. Lawhead

The Silkworm
by Robert Galbraith

The Old Man And The Sea
by Ernest Hemingway

Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky

Murder On The Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

The Inexplicables
by Cherie Priest

Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

The Shining Girls
by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters
by Lauren Beukes

by Malcolm Gladwell

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

The Slow Regard Of Silent Things
by Patrick Rothfuss

A Farewell To Arms
by Ernest Hemingway

by Stephen King

One Year Removed

This year is the first year I am a true veteran on Veteran’s Day. My tenure on active duty with the US Navy ended in December of 2013.

In the military those who choose not to reenlist are said to be “getting out” or have “gotten out.” Often this takes the form of “Are you getting out or are you staying in?” being asked by all manner of people: career advisers, civilian friends and coworkers and fellow service members.

“Getting out” is a term I have been thinking about this past week and I have decided I do not like the phrase. It has a negative connotation about military service. Is active duty service something someone who hasn’t done it can 100% relate to? No. It is an “in or out” club. However, I do not think choosing to leave active duty should be referred to “getting out.”

When you read or hear about people who grow up in rough circumstances they often talk about how they “got away from it all” or “they got out”. People also “get out of prison” after their time has been served. Military service is not the same. While you are under contract and sign most of your life away to the service it should not be seen as an escape that you are leaving. Military service is a not a prison. It may feel like that at times, but it is an honor to serve and choosing to leave active duty service is not an escape from poor circumstances.

From now on I will try my best to not say “I got out” when referring to my active duty service. It was just my time to move on to the next chapter in my life. I am thankful for the opportunities the US Navy presented me and without them I would not be who I am or where I am today.

So thank a veteran. Not the generic “Thank you for your service.” Please don’t say that. That phrase has become so ingrained in the American psyche that it’s no different from hello. It has lost meaning. Also don’t just throw up a “Shout out to all my veterans! XOXO” on Facebook and call it good. Find someone you know and give a personal thank you. Less than 1% of all Americans volunteer to serve, but I am sure you know someone who made that choice.

Give a meaningful thank you. Think about why you are thanking a veteran and then tell them that. They hear “Thank you for your service”, and not just on Veteran’s Day, more times than you could imagine. Put some meaning behind your words.

I am proud to call many of those I served with over the years, many of whom are still standing the watch on active duty, my friends. It was a pleasure to serve alongside each and every one of you.

I am beyond thankful for the support from my family and friends, some of whom have now chosen to join active service as well and especially my sister who signed on the line alongside me. While you may thank us for our service, let us thank all of you for your support. The men and women volunteering to serve in the greatest fighting force on the planet could not do it without your love and support. Thank you.