Child care – American style

I was sauntering around in Toys R Us at Time Square in the Christmas season. Anyone who has been there around this time knows of the incredible amount of crowds that come there. Most people sport a wonderful festive attitude – even New Yorkers. I was there just to enjoy this atmosphere and was happy to look around and talk to anyone who cared to.  I sustained myself with some wonderful small talk. I started having a conversation with a latino family from the mid-west. They had come to the ground floor so that their 17 year old son can get into the ‘giant wheel’ (called a Ferris wheel in the US). Well the wheel was not too big, I guess one could call it a little giant. The family waited by the side when the son got into the line.

By the time the son got close to the ticket counter, the lady in-charge told him abruptly that he cannot get into it. He’s not old enough and needs ‘adult protection’. I was not surprised by this at all, Americans can tend to be overcautious with children. But by then the father started getting agitated. “What do you mean by he’s not an adult”, he said, “he’s in the US Army”! He then told me that people can get into the US army by the time they are 16 or 17. I walked away smiling – old enough to join the army but too young to get into a Ferris Wheel: that’s child care US style.

About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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