I spend a lot of time in my minivan driving four kids here and there, there and here. It’s one of the few places where I can actually think, sometimes. These are my thoughts, scribbled on napkins and receipts. A monthly look into raising kids and living in Lake County.
Note: all opinions belong to me and only me and are not a reflection of those of our advertisers, partners or other writers.
As summer approaches I’m already seeing the shares again about 1970’s summer, how to give your kid the perfect 1970’s summer, etc. As someone who actually had a few 70’s summers of my own (only a few) I have some thoughts…..
“What are you guys up to this summer?” She asks her friend. It’s hard not to overhear in the overcrowded waiting room of the gymnastics facility. I mean I am not totally eavesdropping, but when you are sitting shoulder to shoulder you just hear things.
“Oh nothing, we’re doing a 1970’s summer.”
I stifled the laugh in my throat.
This sentence was right after explaining to the coach that they will be late each week because they are coming from swim lessons. This as she sits outside gymnastics practice–not recreation fun, bouncing around–this is competitive, or the build-up practice to competition, lessons and more practice.
I wonder if she sees the irony?
We all share the articles on Facebook.
While at the same time we over book, over schedule and train our kids into the ground. We run. From practice to games to events that we “can’t miss” because?
Because of FOMO? We don’t want to be the only ones without awesome pics on Facebook?
Because we hover and our afraid to let our children. Out of our sight?
At 10 years old I lived in a much rougher neighborhood than my kids do now. Even 30 years ago it had more violence, more gangs and more drugs than what openly surround my kids in their current suburban bubble. At 10, we not only walked freely around the neighborhood, we would walk down the streets. Busy streets without sidewalks. We would play on the train tracks and go to the mall–ALONE. While I don’t condone playing on railroad tracks, I do think there has to be a middle ground between allowing kids total freedom and none at all.
Do I think my parents were negligent? No. Naive, maybe. I was mature and responsible and they set rules. Go here, call at this time, be home by this time. Did I push the rules? Break them? You bet. But I also grew up independent, strong, and willing to try things on my own.
We are doing a disservice to our children by not letting them attempt anything alone, by not letting them feel that cautious fear of trying something on their own. Of going out into the world in small steps as opposed to being thrown in at high school or college.
We were in the park awhile ago meeting some people. Of course as soon as we sat down to chat my daughter had to go to the bathroom. I asked my 10-year-old son to walk with her across the street to the bakery so she could use the restroom. It was less than half a block, in an affluent downtown area, in the middle of a weekday morning. He refused, stressed out, and than finally his eyes welled up and he explained:
“I don’t like walking on the street alone, people look at me like I am doing something go wrong”
Let that sink in.
We as a society and parents have vilified independence to the point that kids are scared to even try. And not even scared of actually scary things like being hit by a car or kidnapped, but of people’s reactions…of his parents being arrested for letting him be independent.
I don’t have quick and easy answers. I don’t understand how as a society we can both be complaining about how much we’ve changed and started to regulate childhood while at the same time we vilify parents for not keeping their children under 24/7 watch. I do think it starts with simply stepping back.
Leave a blank space on the calendar.
Let your kid go a season without being on a team.
Try not planning one day a week, every week, for a month. Maybe a summer.
Throw the kids out in the backyard with a pool, a ball and a hose, and tell them they can’t come in until lunch. Their ingenuity and imagination may surprise you.
Basically take a step back and say, “what would mom do? Or grandma?”
Chances are she would set up her lawn chair, pull out a magazine and sit down and enjoy the sun….and doesn’t that sound nice?