The mollycoddling of modern kids continues. Consider the following:     
– A Connecticut primary school has banned its students from playing the game of tag during recess. School officials cited the game’s “innate competitiveness” and “increased possibility of injury.” They also mentioned that the word “cooties” was often shouted during the game.
– Many schools in the United Kingdom have abolished the game of conkers due to safety concerns. I don’t know much about conkers other than it involves a piece of string and a horse chestnut. How hazardous could that be? I might understand if the game also involved an actual horse.
– A Delaware magistrate ruled that a local couple was guilty of “potential prospective child abuse” when authorities discovered their son, age 11, was walking the four blocks to and from his school.
“Anything more than two blocks is excessive and inhumane,” declared Judge Sylvia Snodgrass in her verdict. As punishment, the boy’s parents must carry their son to and from his grade school as he reclines on a sedan chair that’s been outfitted with silky feather pillows.    
I totally made that last one up. But, you almost believed it, didn’t you?     
Today’s parents are responsible for this sorry state of affairs. They constantly strive to protect their youngsters from even the tiniest hint of discomfort. It’s gotten to the point where kids are all but hermetically sealed in custom-made Kevlar suits stuffed with foam rubber and equipped with GPS trackers.     
It’s a sign of the times when so-called interactive video games are heralded as the savior of kids’ health. Interactive video games enable users to virtually golf, bowl, play tennis, pick their noses, etc. You have to get up off the couch to do so, which means video game addicts will no longer be easily identified by their super-muscular thumbs.     
More and more interactive video games are in the works. Might this eventually include such offerings as virtual senior prom, where gamers run the risk of being ditched by their virtual dates for a person who doesn’t have super muscular thumbs?     
There’s probably good money in the field of interactive video game development. My choice for such a thing would be a 3D virtual reality experience called Hayloft 1.0.     
The beauty of Hayloft is that it would be powered entirely by the players, negating the need for a rat’s nest of extension cords or the endless consumption of expensive batteries. The game console could be made mostly of wood, which is both renewable and recyclable. Two console styles, Gambrel and Gothic Arch, would be available. You could have any color console you want as long as it’s red or white.     
Hayloft comes preloaded with an assortment of hay and/or straw bales. The program is open-sourced, which means users can reconfigure the bales into a convoluted maze of tunnels. Popular user-built add-ons include secret room and bottomless pit.
The real fun begins once the tunnels are completed. Games such as hide and seek and tunnel tag can be played with other users. These games can be quite challenging due to Hayloft’s multidimensional interface.     
Bundled into Hayloft is a feature called barn cats. At some point, astute gamers may observe that the tummy of a certain barn cat has begun to swell. The feline gradually reaches the point where she looks like a furry, four-legged soccer ball. This component is known as mother cat.
Gamers may notice one day that mother cat has suddenly become quite slim. All players must then search Hayloft until it’s discovered where mother cat has hidden her kittens. The player who succeeds in this quest earns the right to name the kittens. Extra points are awarded for correctly guessing each kitten’s gender.     
A standard element in Hayloft is hay rope. Hay rope is a vertical feature that dangles from the highest point in Hayloft, a place called the cupola.     
Gamers can employ hay rope however they see fit, with the most popular use being a swing. This is accomplished by piling bales to a suitable height, then grabbing hay rope and leaping off the stack. Practicing one’s Tarzan yodel while swinging is highly recommended.     
Gamers often create a mound of loose straw at a spot opposite from their launching point. This is called the landing zone.     
Players may try to ascend hay rope to the cupola, a gravity-defying feat called climbing. Upon reaching the cupola, users have been known to gaze out at the sky and the surrounding countryside and imagine what it’s like to be a bird.     
At this point, the player transcends Hayloft and enters the next level. It’s called Daydream 2.0. 
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.