It’s summer time and the living is easy…RIGHT! The older I get the more these months fly by.
Remember those fun filled days of summer when you were a kid? Playing in the yard with friends, riding bikes until dark, going to the lake? Then, later in life, there were dances in the park, first loves, and driving around town. The days seemed glorious and without a care in the world.
I guess childhood seemed like it would go on forever. Now, work seems to be the “wonder days” of summer. How did things get so complicated? Between work, there are the kids activities like baseball, softball, swimming lessons, 4-H, boy/girl scouts camps…where are those soft summer nights? When did we allow all this chaos to be the norm?
Not only are our adult lives out of control, I don’t know how our children even survive childhood anymore. The schools keep the kids so busy all year long. I had a couple of high school kids working for me in the dietary department at the nursing home. Between all the games, football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, track, and wrestling meets, there were math, spelling, speech and music contests…to name a few. These kids woke up at 4 a.m. just to get ready for the day and after all the activities, part time jobs, and homework, they said it would be midnight before the were able to go to bed.
I spoke to some teachers and of course they didn’t think there was anything wrong with kids being the best they could be. You know test scores matter!! Besides, idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Belief being, kids won’t get into trouble or use drugs because they are kept busy. Do we really need our children having school activities 7 days a week? When does a kid, get to be a “kid”?
I know with my own children, teachers would stress the importance of participating in every activity the school offered. The thought being….they won’t get into the best colleges or get scholarships.
On the other hand, do you want your teen, living off energy drinks, having anxiety attacks or fall into depression because they can’t live up to such a high expectations? Parents, you have to know when enough is enough for your child.
My son loved playing football. He was a good player, lettered in his sophomore year. When he blew out his knee in his junior year, I said that’s enough. I know most parents would have pushed there son back into the game with visions of a pro athlete, but really? I even had the coach call and beg for him to come back to the team. I knew he wasn’t going to get a scholarship, he was good but not THAT good. I wanted him to enjoy his teen years. Not be in a weight room everyday and only live for football. And you know what? He enjoyed his senior year of school without any pressure other than to keep his grades up. I never asked him to get straight A’s, but, to do his best.
My son helped out on his grandfather’s farm throughout the year and saved up enough money to buy his first car. His senior year in school was one of the best times of his life. He had no pressure to play sports. His grades were good. He enjoyed going to the games, hanging out with his friends, going to prom and just being a kid. And you know what? He did get into a good college!! He was even on the Dean’s list and after college he married his high school sweetheart (which he met in his senior year) and has been employed in a job he loves ever since.
My daughter wasn’t the type for sports. She loved art. So naturally, she was pushed into all these art contests and scholarships. When she had enough, she told me she didn’t want to go to an art school. She loves to draw the way she wants to draw and not how somebody tells her how to draw. She said, it wouldn’t be fun anymore. She always had good grades and school was easy, but, I never pushed her into anything she didn’t want to do. Then came her senior year….
FFA (future farmers of America) was introduced to her and she totally found her spark! She became the president of her chapter and studied her agricultural book as if it were a Bible. Her last year of high school became a year of drawing horses and cowboys, going to rodeos, concerts and dances. Much to my surprise, she signed herself up to an agricultural school…yeah she’s independent like that!! She graduated with two majors, one in ag business and the other in animal husbandry. Needless to say, she has a VERY good job with a global company.
As for the kids that are pushed into every activity known to man, I’m sure the majority are doing fine. I do know a few that weren’t so lucky. They are the ones that wasted 6 years of college with their nose in a book studying for scholarships, and are now doing jobs that are totally different than what they started out to be. Those poor kids sacrificed the hearts and souls of their youth for what?
In today’s society, babies, barely out of diapers, are conditioned to learn their ABC’s. Pre-school starts at age 3! When do these little ones have time to play in the grass, pick flowers, or jump in mud puddles?
Bottom line, let’s start letting kids be kids again. I’m not saying school isn’t important, but, you can’t measure genius on a test score. Pushing kids to the brink in my opinion is NUTS!! It only makes them grow into adults that can’t find happiness within themselves. Kids need to experience life as much as they need to study. In the words of Albert Einstein, everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
So, let’s take the mandatory test scores a little less seriously and let the personality of the playful child help determine where they are going to go in life.
Take care and try to find time for fun!