Monday, January 23, 2012

ON FUN ~ Child's Play...

At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am over 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.

"Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable."
~ LESSON #37

I will work very hard to remember this lesson as baby Sammy grows into a little boy. Too often today I think society works against this lesson. Kids always want to be bigger or older than they are. They want to tag along with the big kids, not need a booster seat, do things themselves and do them long before they are really ready. Adults need to make sure kids get to be kids. That they learn to play pick-up sports instead of just constantly dragging them around on organized travel teams. They need to be free to run through neighbors' yards playing hide and seek with friends instead of trapped in their fenced-in property for fear of stranger danger. They need to be encouraged to make decisions about choices that are appropriate for kids. They don't need to be pushed into a ton of structured activities, dressed like slutty teen stars and forced to practice, study and work instead of playing, laughing and living.

Kids should do their homework, their chores and be involved with team or group activities. But not all the time. That's the part that grown-ups get sucked into. I am thankful that in our neighborhood there are wonderful parents that we can model our own parenting after. Their kids create games of their own to play outside, they aren't allowed tech gadgets or video games before a certain age, they take summers off from sports to spend time together as a family, taking road trips, exploring nature or just helping out with the yard work.

These kids that we have watched grow up around us are polite, helpful and happy. They are smart, kind and funny. And of course they get grounded, fight with their siblings, pitch fits and sulk. They are kids. And that is part of growing up. They have plenty of time to get there. In the meantime they get to play and experience the childhood they will remember fondly when they are old and weary, wishing they had time to be a kid again.


Kathleen said...

Over scheduled kids is my pet peeve. I've seen it so many times as my son was growing up and the kids always seemed so miserable. Kids need time to just play, make believe, think, and to daydream. This post is right on!

Susan Drummond said...

Amen! And I say, Amen! I wish I could convince Aimee's kids to spend less time on the DS's, the computer, the iPod, etc. Of course, it's winter, and they do much better about going outside when the weather is better. I need to practice what I preach, too. ;-) Thank goodness they live in a really safe neighborhood. The only drawback is there isn't a big variety of kids to play with...lots of older people. It's kind of a transitional neighborhood. There are some younger families moving in gradually, so that's a good thing.

Sandy Nawrot said...

This is why you are going to be such great parents for Sammy. It is so hard to be a good parent, and the older they get, the more influence society and their friends have on them. We don't live in a neighborhood, and while it is a great little haven in the middle of town, I think they missing out on these pickup games. Yes, mine love their electronics, but I am trying my best to teach them balance. If it doesn't kill me before they leave the house, I'll be happy!!!

stacybuckeye said...

Sounds like you live in a great neighborhood! Lucky for Sammy.

Lin said...

It's hard to raise kids these days. The commitments that organizations, sports, and adults demand from you and your child are ridiculous. You have to fight it with every fiber of your being. Not kidding.

My daughter's fun dance class turned into the demand that she needed to dance 3-5 times a week--and do every type of dance offered. There were expensive recitals where parents behaved like fools thinking their kid had the starring role. We finally had to quit when the demands became too much.

Sports are a nightmare for both, but for boys it is horrible. Especially if you don't have an athletic kid--which I did not. Oh, man, he was ridiculed horribly. There is pressure to join summer teams, spring teams, fall teams, winter teams, and then travel teams. Add in all-stars and your life would be non-existent. Along with your bank account.

But few parents say enough is enough--let's let our kids dabble and not commit to one sport, one interest, one never-ending schedule. We did--and I don't regret it.

The key to getting into a good college and getting scholarships these days isn't your sport or talent--it is being a good student and being well-rounded--something that you have to fight at every turn.

Let your kid be a kid. Don't sign him up for everything and above all--don't cancel your summer vacation for a league or team of ANY kind. Go camping. We did. That lack of electricity and amenities was great for keeping our kids grounded.

Good luck!

Tami said...

So glad to hear a parent who agrees with me! :) The constant scheduling deprives kids of the time they need to just have fun, be creative, be an individual. It also puts a large dent in their parent's wallet and spare time. The money could be so much better spent on family trips, etc.

Sadly, our grandsons are prime examples. They are never home from school/taekwondo/soccor etc. early enough to allow time for anything but eat, do homework, go to bed.

When they visit us, they don't know how to go outside and create their own games -with acres to explore, woods, animals... Indoors they have to have a structured activity such as a puzzle or game - they don't understand creative play like a box of legos unless their are specific instructions to make what's shown in the picture.

Obviously I could go on and on about this peev - so glad Sammy will be allowed and encouraged to be a kid.

cardiogirl said...

I'd also add that kids need to be bored once in a while. Boredom encourages a kid's imagination.

It also breeds a crazy mess in the kitchen, living room, basement, etc. but you'll also get a little break.

It's a major trade off but worth it every so often.