Monday, May 26, 2008

What Happened to just Being a Kid?

Everyone is asleep after a long weekend--which turned out to be rainy unlike last weekend when we had record high heat and Makala got her first ever (that I know of) sunburn!

It was actually a pretty nice weekend and well needed. Makala is still dealing with the transition to the day treatment school. By the time she settles in it will be summer and another transition. It is difficult for people who do not love her, or live with her to understand how hard it is for her to adjust to ANY change of routine, school, or even time the sunsets. Children today seem to be treated as if life starts and stops -- shifts and changes on a whim.

I remember being 10 years old and I don't recall that children in my day, were expected to shift so much in life. The rules at school were much the same as the rules in my home were. Children had common experiences we all watched the same programs on television without deviations because they were the only shows to watch. We all played Yahtzee and Scrabble not what ever it is on the Nintendo or other systems. We played outside unsupervised--yet managed to survive and learned social skills by dealing with all the other children in the neighborhood.

At supper time mothers stood in the yard and hollered, "Johnny, come home it's time to eat!" I remember this because my mother not being one to ever yell purchased a whistle instead to gather her three children from a long day of play. I have not heard the sound of a mother calling her child home for supper in 20 years!

It's so sad that society won't allow children to run and play and group up, socialize without the constant interventions of a parent. I think I learned 80% of my personal social behaviors, boundaries and consequences by interacting with the children in my neighborhood. Patty and I used to walk to school (almost a mile I clocked it last year when visiting) our day started as best-friends and our day often ended with some kind of fight on the way home. Once in awhile a real hair-pulling scratching kind of fight. Some how our mother's just accepted it as normal.

I often wonder what has happened that children can't just run and play anymore? Have we allowed the terrorism of kidnappers and pedophiles to take away a normal childhood? When I drive around I hardly see a child out playing--I never see children walking anyplace and I wonder where they all are?

Makala and Marty play outside--a lot. Perhaps because we have not purchased an electronic babysitter? Actually, these kids belong in the 1970's! When I stop to think of some of the most difficult boundaries we must enforce it often strikes me that I expect my children to live a childhood I don't know if I could have lived myself. I rather doubt my parents could have kept me so tight and isolated.

I was only 9 years old when I was walking to the high school to swim. I was in love with "Terry" the lifeguard who showed me how to back dive off the board. I remember running home one day and begging for $9.00 to join the swim team and $14.00 for the team swim suite. I don't think my parents even talked to the coach or came to see where I was for all of those hours. I remember being 12 years old and taking John my 6 year old brother on the city bus ALONE! I remember one time we just rode the bus to see where it went, and once we took the bus all the way to Los Angeles by ourselves. Parents would be thrown in jail for letting their children do this today!

Why has the world closed up so tight? Not only in the fact that children can't go outside and play without a helmet, knee pads, G.P.S. and a can of mace--but, also in the way people interact with each other. When I was a child if I threw a fit at the store my father would have spanked my bottom right there in the isle...and if the fit had been annoying enough there would have been a line of parents waiting to swat my bottom right behind my father. Well, that is an aggregation but not a big one.

Tolerance and acceptance of the rights of others--has turned into "Don't Say Anything to Anyone Else about Anything" People see a naughty child at the store and rather than support the parents they watch to make sure the parent isn't going to say or do anything that might be "wrong". A child can be in the middle of a huge tantrum in line at the check-out, and 100 people in the store... they all act as if they see or hear nothing. They don't dare say a word to the child for fear the parent will sue or slug them...they don't say a word to the parents because well--it isn't any of their business.

When did that happen?

Teachers offer Axioms, and present 10 year old's with writing projects to support their OWN point of views... and then stand up and "defend' their position. This might be a great project if the Axiom offered wasn't "Killing is Wrong" That's all 10 year old... you write an essay about "Killing is Wrong" or right and then debate it. Hummm, I am thinking there must have been at least a thousand other axioms to offer children in the 4th grade... but, this is the one offered to 45 students. It gets worse however, as the way these little children were expected to defend their position was to be brought together and told to go to one side of the room if you believe "Killing is Wrong" and to the other side of the room if you don't believe "Killing is wrong" and then stand up and defend your position.

The assignment was even more disgusting to me, when the teacher told me that "They were to allow the children to express their OWN viewpoint without any Guidance or direction from the teachers and Naturally the Teachers were not to share their point of view of steer the project!

WHAT?

I asked this Question on Yahoo Answers "Should 10yrs old Be Deciding if "Killing" is Okay?" The teachers email and all the details are in the question and thankfully I wasn't the only person who thought this was a bit too much for 10 year olds.

What happened to everyone actually caring about children? My assignments at that age were to learn about the Wright Brothers, or Study the Weather. I remember our big "touchy-feely" projects being something like going outside and finding a spot--then sitting on the grass and listening to any sound we could hear... A bird, a car, a child playing. But--never a discussion about "Is Killing Wrong?" We were just KIDS and we were not expected to think about things like Killing... Even though every night when we went home the evening news ran the list of names of Drafted Boys who died in Vietnam... 58,000 died in that war and we saw it every night but as a child we were permitted to NOT understand the War around us. We were just allowed to play and be children.

I think all this tolerance and lack of One common society has NOT made life better for children. I was a Minority in my class from Kindergarten until 3rd grade and had No Idea any of us were different from each other. It didn't matter to me that I was a blond haired, green eyed, freckle faced little girl with only two other children in my class filled with Hispanic and other cultures of children who did not look like me. I only even noticed a few years ago when I was looking at class pictures and thought how I stuck-out in a glowing sort of way.

I just didn't notice as a child and it didn't matter because as far as I could tell none of the other children noticed either. We were just children. I had no clue that anyone around me might not believe in the same God I do, or that they might have a completely different religion. To me everyone was just who they were and most of us followed the same "social code" we were never much concerned about the fact that we didn't all have the same beliefs, skin or really anything.

Now, I listen to children who announce the fact they are this or that...believe this or that.... and tolerance to me has become a double-edged sword. Saturday we had a friend over and he brought his 9 year old son. Makala, Marty and his son were playing in the yard and I was listening. I heard the 9 year old boy tell my daughter that "He believes you can't eat meat and if she had a problem with it he would have his dad sue our pants off because she was discriminating."

When I went to see what was going on, it turned out my daughter had offered him a piece of Beef Jerky and she didn't understand what she had done to cause this kid to over react. He could have just said, "No Thank You" But, instead for God Only knows what reason--it was some kind of tolerance issues... My daughter somehow disrespected someone by offering them some food. I don't recall the Jewish children I knew being all worked up over the fact we had hot-dogs with pork in them. The Jewish children just didn't eat it because they had been taught by their parents. It was not seen as Intolerant for a Christian child to eat hot-dogs with pork nor was it seen as intolerant for the Jewish child to simply say, "No Thanks"

Now you offer a vegetarian child a piece of beef-jerky and he threatens to have his dad sue because you were intolerant. I wonder what these children are being taught at home? Where would a kid even get the idea to sue because someone didn't even really know what a vegetarian was?

....some days, I don't feel like an acre is big enough to hide from the crazy world. Other days I feel like an "old" person sitting their saying, "Back in my day...." I feel like there is a difference between how I feel about "back in my day" and how the old people I heard talk that way felt... When I was a child and an older person shared a story from their childhood--it almost always reflected on How Lucky I was not to have to walk 5 miles in the snow to school everyday. I was lucky to have a bus, or even shoes...

My DAY was Better then the old people who ranted to me. Always better. Now, it just doesn't seem like the stories I tell my children indicate much is better today...Oh we have on demand movies, video games, and everyone can do, feel and be whatever they want....but, our children can't be kids anymore and I can only imagine what they will tell their children and grandchildren about their childhood?

I wish that my kids could have the fun of the summer of 1973 where there wasn't much to worry about until mom called us home for supper and the play ended for another day.

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