Let’s Let Kids be Kids

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?”


Munchkin: “Kindergarten.”


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.


4 responses to “Let’s Let Kids be Kids

  1. Oh you are so right Beth. It pains me inside to witness this type of behavior by parents. And then when the children become teens, are uncontrollable, sas their parents, drive down the roads in their own brand new fancy cars with all their friends inside…they are all bopping to the music, laughing and carrying on, and then…there is the crash, the children are dead…and these parents can’t understand why this happened to their children. And the children who end up on drugs, and or commit suicide or kill others…all the while the parents were in denial that their children could do any of these bad things…”I give/gave them everything. They wanted for nothing.” What about the lack of time spent WITH the children, having conversations with them, letting them know they are truly loved and that it is safe to tell them what is going on in their lives without feeling they would be unloved for doing so. And, as you said – saying NO, which is a sign of love.

  2. Here, here, Beth! We could all take a lesson from the cartoon “Rugrats,” in which an episode depicted the protagonist babies and toddlers having a grand old time turning an empty TV set carton into a fort, a spaceship, a castle, anything their IMAGINATIONS dreamed up. Now, there’s a word that’s in danger of extinction.

  3. So true, Beth! It seems we’re back in the Middle Ages, when the prevailing philosophy was that children are adults in small bodies, so treat them that way — very harsh! Now, it’s overindulging instead, but pretty much as harmful. Also, so much focus on the external — what about developing character, imagination, freedom of thought?
    Yikes! We’re talking about love, marriage, parenthood and permutations thereof at the Dr. Romance Blog! http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/

  4. Not only has this has caused many children to become overstressed and over whelmed by life’s challenges……but the homework that is given to children in kindergarten and up, is absurd!
    Remember the days when you got on you bike, or made pot holders to sell, and your parents said,” Just get home before dark”. We came home ( I know it is a different world, but it doesn’t have to be THAT different), red cheeked, excited about meeting and playing with our friends….talking about dirt bombs and using the garbage can tops as shields, washing our hands, and sitting down to dinner WITH the family.
    No suing if your child got hurt, patch it up and bactine will do the trick….broken arm? Hospital.

    Most of us had a wonderful education, that allowed us to learn how to think and figure things out, BEFORE, we, the lucky ones went on to go to college. But the children who went to work immediately were prepared for life

    Now , it is partly ‘busy’ B.S.nonsense homework.
    Keep them busy, busy: sports, sports and homework, that parent’s have to join in, and practically do the work for them, because God forbid, they do it themselves and it is not perfect.
    And speaking of sports, the life lessons , are teamwork, going for the goal of winning, disappointment, and sportsmenship.
    Sure it hurts to loose, or be heartbroken, or snubbed by your best friend, but that is important, even though it hurts the parent’s as well. Tthese are all very healthy life lessons: figuring out what to do, how to handle crummy and wonderful situations in life.

    And then the obtuse teachers….and many should not be teaching, give the parent’s the good grades (who did the poster of the intestines), and the children who actually do the project by themselves get cheated out of a proper grade. But THEY need to learn how to speak to the teacher and stand up for themselves; we cannot be crutches, or they will never walk….why should they?

    The tutors: how come all (or most of the kids) have tutors????? Is it the parent’s who want to push their kids, or is it the school which suggests it? In my case, the school suggested it, and I wasn’t alone, not a bit and he was not a special ed child.
    If everyone, including the “golden children” have tutors, what it wrong with our schools???? Do they not teach well, do they have enough time? Is it the administation? All of the above?
    So much homework, after school activities ( I had many lessons after school, but I always had time to play with other, always) and sports….2-3 days of pratice and then 2-3 games, usually once a week….we are not talking about H.S. here: this is 5,6,7,8, grade.

    That means no free time to relax, play with others (social!), and enjoy life?? I have seen students cry, and pull their hair about their grades…..
    I wonder if children have time to lay on the grass and watch the clouds?

    Some teachers have complained: they have been told , not really to teach, but to get the kids ready for the exams that the government requires for more money for the schools.

    Children really do learn on their own, they may be guided, but their brains are sponges, and I assure you that with social activity, excercise (i.e. playing!), and yes, I think video games are okay within a time limit, study groups, and traveling would make all the difference.

    Can’t go back to the 50’s and 60’s, but we can try to struture our children’s life a bit, so they are safe, and know manners, have some free time, and we, as parents and advocates for our children can give feedback to the schools and write letters in the letters to the editors in our newpapers about our schools!

    And then stay out of their lives (in a good way:)they don’t need hand holding; they barely can do anything on their own: college applications…..done by juniors in high school and seniors: ask how many parents do that?????Handle a check book in college? Let them bounce a few checks and pay for them. They will learn consequences: and LEARN; the best way!

    If you want to give them everything, give them responsibility.

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