Kids Just Being Kids

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

August 26, 2010

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Categories: Family

What's it all about......351/365
Image by AndYaDontStop via Flickr

Did you ever see that late 80s flick Parenthood with Steve Martin? One of the parents in the movie was obsessed with ensuring their kiddo had a good start to life. So much so that he had her memorizing multiplication tables at 4. Most of the parents in the flick didn’t obsess over their children in such a way, as if in some ways the other parents got it.

My mother gets it.  My grandmother certainly got it. They get that kids need a certain amount of freedom and play. (My mother the classic, self-identified, “worry-wort.”) The farm, where she lives, is the one place where I feel it’s safe enough, despite the farm equipment and falling down barn, for Levi to run free. So, why did we collectively, as a society, forget that kids need to be free range?

As stated previously, I’m reading The Trouble with Boys. I am amazed at the number of stories she lists where authoritarian rule prevails over actual learning. I am surprised that we actually have to study and think about linking kids failure to thrive in school is linked to their inability to run around in school. When I stop to pause over this, I only think, “Duh!”

On one hand, I shouldn’t be surprised, as it seems an extension from our days of old. I’m thinking of the image of a Nun teacher wrapping children’s hands with rulers when they don’t behave or act in a predictable manner.

But, kids had recess then. Kids could run to the end of the block and play in the woods, behind the housing developments, away from parents – for hours. So, if many schools are taking the authoritarian position, and removing recess, our pendulum has swung, and not for the better.

I remember sitting in school when spring broke free. I remember staring outside at the sun, peaking behind the clouds, and how the air just looked warm. I loved school learning, but that was the last place I wanted to be on those warm spring days. I wanted to be outside, sitting under a tree. My brothers would have rather been running around, playing games, or riding their bikes. Anywhere but school. Anyplace other than one that required your butt be nailed to a chair.

Are we, as adults, so far removed from our childhoods that we have forgotten what its like? The cross-hairs between wanting to grow up, not knowing full responsibility, and just wanting to play? Are we so far remved from childhood, as adults, that we have forgotten what its like to be a kid, and let kids just be kids?

We grow up so fast. I heard a story on NPR the other day that was talking about how the human brain doesn’t become fully developed until after 21! We have girls going through puberty at 8 years old (another topic, another time), a full 13 years before their brains reach adult maturity!! And, those pre-pubescent problems are not alone with how we push kids in preschool, fast tracking maths and other studies. What are we doing to our children? Add to that the safety-obsessed society we are… I wonder how much we our robbing from todays’ children and how we are making them grow up well before their time. Does it differ greatly from wars and when girls would marry at 14?

I’m perplexed by this need for daycare. I’m reading The Trouble with Boys and thinking about my bouncy boy in an all-day kindergarten. I’m thinking about recess and play time and full time jobs and homemade snacks when he comes home. I hope my husband and I continue to remember to let Levi be a kid because he has this one chance and its our job to preserve it as much as we are able.

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