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Published July 16, 2012, 10:52 AM

Sign them up and start your motors

Growing up in this day and age is a little different from when I was a kid. I’m not sure if I had it better or if my kids have it better, but it’s definitely different.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — Growing up in this day and age is a little different from when I was a kid. I’m not sure if I had it better or if my kids have it better, but it’s definitely different.

For my first 12 years I pretty much never left the ranch except to go to school. When the bus brought me home at night, I stayed home. Okay, I did have piano lessons one night a week when I was nine and 10 years old. And someone drove me to town a few times for a BB gun marksmanship program put on by the Jaycee’s when I was in fifth grade.

Other than that, my folks counted on me entertaining myself because they weren’t driving that old four-door Ford down 16 miles of gravel road to take me into town for much else. And I didn’t feel too mistreated.

It’s a little different these days as I talk to my friends who are parents. Parenting is kind of a second job, their first job is as drivers and chauffers for their youngsters as they ferry them back and forth from one organized activity, sport, lesson, camp and school function to another.

I’m sure there are children who go to more stuff in one week than I went to in a year or my parents went to between first grade and eighth grade. Maybe that’s progress, at least for the children. The moms and dads who find their schedule dictated by junior’s pee wee basketball, dance team, gymnastics, tuba lessons, this, that and the other thing may feel a little different about the progress made from their point of view.

When my wife and I began our family, I sternly stated that there’s no reason our kids living 15 miles from town need to be in anything until they’re old enough to get their license and drive themselves. I can’t remember if she laughed out loud or not.

Her family experience was a little different than mine. Her and her siblings are better athletes and probably better at a lot of other things to prove it. I’ve still tried to urge a little moderation as our kids find out about this activity or that from their friends, or my wife discovers one lesson or another that she’s certain they should be enrolled in.

I’m kind of holding my own in the plea for moderation. Off the top of my head, I think we’ve had at least one or more of our kids in kickball, t-ball, baseball, gymnastics, ballet, Cub Scouts, swimming lessons and Bible Camp. With three children between the ages of 3 and 8, that’s a fairly modest list.

So the kids also have some time to entertain themselves, make up a game, create their own adventure and spend a little time with each other and their parents. And still catch a ride to town from us to learn how to swim, play a sport with their friends, stretch and move their bodies, learn the Scout’s motto and find the Holy Spirit out in nature with friends.

We still put a lot more miles on our Chevy than my parents ever put on their Ford, but we’ve struck a decent balance. The kids are happy, the parents are happy, so far, so good.

I don’t suppose it’s going to get any easier as they get older, but then we can hold out for the day they can drive themselves. But I suppose they’ll still expect us to put gas in the car.