I’ve often heard, “Let bygones be bygones.” I’d like to amend that. “Let kids be kids.”
Overheard yesterday in line at Rita’s where I am a regular (small chocolate custard in a waffle cone):
Mother: “I got you a hair appointment with Manuel for the night before your graduation. Do you want to get it straightened?”
Turning around to congratulate the graduate-to-be, I had to lower my gaze a good two feet to make eye contact. Before me was a precious munchkin in golden curls.
Me: “Congratulations! What are you graduating from?”
Jeez Louise! A kindergartener is having her hair done? A few weeks ago I watched in disbelief as a mother held her squirming baby and ordered the nail technician to paint the kids’ toes blue.
Everywhere I go, I see parents treating their youngsters like mini-adults and/or trick ponies. (“Raoul, count backwards from 100 to 0 for mommy. Do it or I’ll ground you from Nerf ball for eternity.” “Lorelei, honey, sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic in Gaelic for our guests.” )
What’s responsible for this aberrant behavior? Are mom and dad afraid their children will be among those “left behind?” Are they fearful that their kids will choose George W. as a role model? Either way, we are in deep doody.
We’re living in the age of the Child as Wind-Up Toy. We’re grooming a country full of 40-year-old midgets.
For many parents, “no” is a four-letter world. They want to be best buds with their offspring, not role models.
What is up with infants in designer denims and couture frocks? Excuse me, I must have missed something. They can’t hold spit in their mouths, and they need a $140 RL cashmere crewneck?
Of course, by the time they’re 2-years-old, “I want” equals “I get.” Now there’s a message worth cementing.
By elementary school most kids have the pop-eyed, icy stare of children in a Margaret Keane painting. Why? Because they’re glued to things inanimate—TVs, PSPs, DVDs—for hours on end. Where is it written that children have to own every new electronic device within 7 minutes of its leaving the assembly line?
We’re raising a generation of overfed zombies who think fluorescent lighting is natural. These kids would slim down, lose the pallor, and learn some important social skills if they spent less time pushing buttons with their thumbs and more time outside playing Kick the Can, Steal the Bacon and Doctor.
And whatever happened to losing? It’s on the endangered species list. The biggest klutzes receive trophies the size of Mount Rushmore—for warming the bench. Surely, even the slowest among them know if they are uncoordinated. C’mon folks! Why reinforce false positives? Through losing and messing up, kids learn important lessons. We’re robbing them of the joy of feeling good about themselves
Parents, please take note (after you get off your cell phones): JUST SAY NO has applications beyond drugs and sex.