When I was growing up, nobody in my neighborhood had air conditioning. Most houses relied on a box fan in the window to cool off. My problem was, and still is, I hate fans. They are so noisy, they keep me awake, and I just don’t like the feel of wind on me. I remember trying to go to sleep with the fan on, and then I would get up and turn it off, then turn it on again… The bottom line is, it was hot, humid, and we had no way to cool off.
The funny thing is, I don’t remember complaining TOO much about it. Sure I whined when I couldn’t fall asleep, but still, each day I got up and played outside until the street lights came on. Not going outside wasn’t an option for me or any of the kids in the neighborhood.
I look at the parks and neighborhoods in the summer today and no kids are playing outside. At first I just figured all the kids were hooked on Xbox. However, I think another big part of it is kids don’t want to play in the heat. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a choice. Now days, kids are much more comfortable inside than outdoors, and even my own family is inside a lot more than I was. I even wait to do my gardening until the evening when it has cooled off a little. Basically, I think people don’t want to deal with the heat, because they just don’t have to.
However, I look back so fondly on the days of my childhood of playing outside with everyone else. I was reminded of those days when I recently drove through an older neighborhood that did not seem to have many homes with central air. In this neighborhood, I saw people barbecuing, sitting on the porch socializing, and kids were riding their bikes all over the place. These kids were all skinny too, and were having a fantastic time.
I correlate part of the modern world’s obesity problem to the popularity of air conditioning. It is just too easy for kids to be comfortable inside and sitting around the house all day. It seems now like it is almost child cruelty if you have your kid play outside between noon and three on a hot day.
What do you think? Do you see many kids outside playing as much in the summer as you did when you were a child? Do you think air conditioning has anything to do with obesity rates?
(Ironically, the person in the car sitting next to me as I type this has her windows rolled up, and the car has been running for literally the last hour. I have my windows open, so I get to enjoy the heat from her car pouring through my window and also get to listen to her engine run endlessly.)