My first thought when I scrolled onto this photo was,
“Where did the children go?”
My second (and immediate) thought was, “They grew up.”
Alas, we all have to do it. It often comes sooner than later for some folks. Children of families at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum tend to mature faster than more affluent kids. They’re the ones waiting tables poolside at the country club, while their more fortunate (?) classmates are ordering chicken salad Panini and fried mozzarella sticks. I inserted the question mark because, based on what I’ve seen, some of those “more fortunate” kids aren’t more fortunate at all. They tend to be sheltered with helicopter parents orchestrating every aspect of their lives. There’s a price for all this over-attention; children who are unprepared for the real world. They grow up believing that the good things in life will come to them based on who they are, instead of what they can offer. They’re not challenged in the same ways as their less affluent counterparts. Despite attending good schools and having the best resources, they lack emotional intelligence and maturity. Their world view is narrow and their thinking individualistic. When making choices they seldom consider the potential impact on others.
Conversely, the “less fortunate” group has to work harder for fewer benefits. They take part-time jobs for spending money and expenses like auto insurance and cell phone bills. Their families are usually larger with smaller paychecks, which means everyone gets a reduced slice of the pie. They have to borrow rather than buy things like cars and money to go to college. They work harder for less. Because of this they learn early on about the collective good versus the individual good. In other words, it’s not all about them.
Not all wealthy kids are spoiled and not all poor kids are responsible. There are exceptions to every rule. However, some children have to grow up too fast and others retain childish qualities into their golden years. Chili Davis was quoted as saying,
Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”
So, my third and final thought is this: the swings are empty because the kids grew old.