Defining perfection in 2017

How would you describe your perfect day?

This is the question we want kids to answer as part of our third annual Young Writers Essay Contest. Who would they spend the day with? What would they do? Where would they go?

When I was growing up in Salem, my perfect day would be sunny and 90 degrees. I would go down the street to Canobie Lake Park, then across the street for a grilled cheese sandwich from Gateside – 75 cents, wrapped in wax paper and greasy. I’d ride my bike, build forts with my friends, and make sure I didn’t miss the ice cream truck so I could get Pop Rocks and a Chippedy Chocolately.

An entire day contained within a one-mile radius from my house.

Aside from reading the local newspaper, I didn’t know much about what was going on outside of my little world. I have to believe that my perfect day would have been different if the Internet, cell phones and social media had existed.

Also, my social life for the most part was comprised of hanging out with the next-door neighbors (without parental supervision until the streetlight went on). More often now kids engage socially outside their neighborhood. Whether it’s soccer practice, the Boys and Girls Club,  dance class or an after-school activity, they meet many more people from different backgrounds, other schools and towns. Older kids meet those who share similar interests in the virtual world. They can play a video game or chat on Facebook with someone living across the country.

Has the world changed so much that a perfect day for a kid now would be completely different than what I described? Or are there things that never change about childhood – friends, adventures, ice cream?

I can’t wait to read the contest entries to find out if the more things change the more things stay the same. What is a perfect day for someone growing up in 2017? Let us know. Entries are due by Wednesday, July 14. The overall winner will appear on the cover of our August issue. For more contest information, go to Page 6 or go to

This essay contest is a great opportunity to prompt a conversation with your child. Talk with them about what your life was like growing up and how your childhoods compare. They will be both shocked and amused to hear there was a world before YouTube, iPhones and GPS. 

Melanie Hitchcock


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