Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Would Never Let MY Kids Walk to School

U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 1969 only 12% of kids were driven to school. Today, that number has quadrupled, while the number of kids walking or biking has fallen to a despicable 13%.

When I was a kid I didn't walk to school uphill both ways, but I did walk.  I walked in the snow, in the rain, when I was sick and once with a sprained ankle. We all carried our books in our arms because book bags were for sissies. And when it rained, nobody had an umbrella or a ride home.

I never once heard Mom say, “Hi sweetie, I'm here to pick you up 'cause it's raining. Here are your headphones so you can watch a movie on the ride home.” And somehow I think I’m much better off having never heard it.

We no longer build tree forts, we buy them. We don’t watch movies with our kids at the drive-ins. Instead, we drive while our kids watch movies. We control our kid's free time and read articles like “How to Plan the Perfect Play Date.”  Every morning I join the climate-controlled car line at the bus stop.  Is anyone else disgusted?

We all know that unstructured play is instrumental in the development of a well adjusted child, but still we follow the masses to soccer signups and cheer tryouts. Why should our children be left out? What choice do we have? The Let Kids Just Play article written by confirms that “unstructured play time is actually more important than homework.”

So, how can I combat this parental trend without ostracizing my kids from all of their friends? I have no idea, but for the next week, I’m going to use Mom’s translations for all my common parenting phrases:

I would sayMom would say
“Time for your Play Date”“Get outside and don’t come in ‘till dinner.”
“You need a Time Out”“You’re in deep shit.”
“Organized Sports”“Summer Rec, Pickup games and Curb-Ball”
“Helicopter Parent”There’s no translation. Abstinence is the only choice.

Sorry to cut this post short, but I’ve gotta get to the bus stop to pick up the kids. After all, it's raining, their book bags are heavy, and we have some play dates to plan.

How will you rid yourself of modern parenting?

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This post is linked to the following blogs:
 Sunday Blog Hop Shibley Smiles 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Protect Our Children, Stop Keeping Score?

PhotobucketWhen I was a kid, Field Day was the Olympics of grade school. It was a day we looked forward to all year. It was our chance to win the coveted blue First-Place ribbon in kickball, sprints or the three-legged race.
It was my daughter’s fifth grade Field Day and I was in charge of the basketball throwing station. Adrenalin-filled voices echoed through the school yard, tickling my memories.

I instructed the kids, “Each team member gets one shot. The team with the highest score wins...”

A designer-clothes-wearing volunteer mom interrupted, “Oh no. We don’t keep score. Everybody’s a winner.”

Another Nosey-Nelly added, “She’s right. This is Field Day. This is supposed to be fun.”

What’s not fun about keeping score? These kids are ten; I think they can count. It’s mathematically and logically impossible for everyone to be a winner.

I said, “I tell you what, next year, you sign up to be Class Mom. Then you run field day however the hell you want. This year we’re keepin’ score.”

When did “Everybody’s-A-Winner” awards and “You-Participated” gold medals replace Fist-Place trophies? What are we teaching our children with these? Maybe an undeserved award will boost their self esteem. Maybe they can stare at the awards and pretend they don’t know who really won.

In the Newsweek article Winning Isn’t Everything…, Leslie Goldman writes, “But after a certain age, sports aren’t just about fun and games. They are a critical tool to teaching kids about discipline, hard work, and winning and losing.”

Life is unfair, but we can’t make it fair by pretending everyone’s a winner. We can make it fair by teaching our kids how to win gracefully and loose with dignity and find their special talent – that one thing that they want to achieve. We’re not all awarded the valedictorian title or presidential job, but we can all strive for it. In America, that’s called opportunity.

There’s much to be learned from losing and much to be learned from winning. I’m just not sure what’s learned from pretending we’re not competing.

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