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.